Skip to main content

Full text of "Oliver Twist"

See other formats


LIBRARY 

Brigham Young University bi 
RARE BOOK COLLECTION I 




00 
(O 
00 
00 

CO 
CM 
CM 

O) 



CO 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2012 with funding from 
Brigham Young University 



http://archive.org/details/olivertwist18382dick 



OLIVER TWIST. 



VOL. II. 



November 1838. 

NEW WORKS OF FICTION, 

To be published during the present Month, 

I. 

EVE EFFINGHAM; 

OR, HOME. 
By J. FENIMORE COOPER, Esq. 

" Author of " The Pilot," ** The Red Rovek," " Home- 
ward Bound," &c. In 3 Vols. 

II. 

LEGEND AND ROMANCE; 

AFRICAN AND EUROPEAN. 

By RICHARD JOHNS, Esq. 

Two Vols, post 8vo. 



RICHARD BENTLEY. NEW BURLINGTON STREET 



,ll 




E^^P^^Oruiibs-KoA^Kt^ 



-y.. 



OLIVER TWIST 



BY 



CHARLES DICKENS. 



AUTHOR OF " THE PICKWICK PAPERS. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 

VOL. II. 



LONDON: 

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 



1838. 



WHITING, 
BEAUronX HOUSE. 



OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XX. 

WHEREIN OLIVER IS DELIVERED OVER TO MR. WILLIAM 
SIKES. 

When Oliver awoke in the morning he was 
a good deal surprised to find that a new pair of 
shoes with strong thick soles had been placed 
at his bedside^ and that his old ones had been 
removed. At first he was pleased with the 
discovery^ hoping that it might be the forerun- 
ner of his release; but such thoughts were 
quickly dispelled on his sitting down to break- 
fast alone with the Jew^ who told him, in a 
tone and manner which increased his alarm, 
that he was to be taken to the residence of Bill 
Sikes that night. 

VOL. II. B 



2 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ To — to — stop there, sir V asked Oliver, 
anxiously. 

^^ No, no, my dear, not to stop tliere,'^ re- 
plied the Jew. " We shouldn't like to lose 
you. Don't be afraid, Oliver, you shall come 
back to us again. Ha ! ha ! ha ! We won't be 
so cruel as to send you away, my dear. Oh no, 
no!" 

The old man who was stooping over the fire 
toasting a piece of bread, looked round as he 
bantered Oliver thus, and chuckled as if to show 
that he knew he would still be very glad to get 
away if he could. 

" I suppose," said the Jew, fixing his eyes on 
Oliver, ^^ you want to know what you're going 
to Bill's for — eh, my dear ?" 

Oliver coloured involuntarily to find that the 
old thief had been reading his thoughts ; but 
boldly said, ^' Yes, he did want to know." 

" Why, do you think ?" inquired Fagin, par- 
rying the question. 

" Indeed I don't know, sir," replied Oliver. 

^^ Bah !" said the Jew, turning away Avith a 
disappointed countenance from a close perusal 



OLIVER TWIST, 6 

of the boy's face. " Wait till Bill tells you, 
then/' 

The Jew seemed much vexed by Oliver's 
not expressing any greater curiosity on the 
subject ; but the truth is^ that, although he felt 
very anxious^ he was too much confused by the 
earnest cunning of Fagin's looks, and his own 
speculations, to make any further inquiries just 
then. He had no other opportunity; for the 
Jew remained very surly and silent till night, 
when he prepared to go abroad. 

^^ You may burn a candle," said the Jew, 
putting one upon the table ; ^' and here's a book 
for you to read till they come to fetch 3^ou. 
Good night !'' 

^^ Good night, sir !" replied Oliver, softly. 

The Jew walked to the door, looking over his 
shoulder at the boy as he went, and, suddenly 
stopping, called him by his name. 

Oliver looked up ; the Jew, pointing to the 
candle, motioned him to light it. He did so ; 
and, as he placed the candlestick upon the 
table, saw that the Jew was gazing fixedly at 
him with lowering and contracted brows from 
the dark end of the room. 
b2 



4 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Take heed, Oliver ! take heed !" said the 
old man, shaking his right hand before him in 
a warning manner. '^ He^s a rough man, 
and thinks nothing of blood when his own is 
up. Whatever falls out, say nothing, and do 
what he bids you. Mind !" Placing a strong 
emphasis on the last word, he suffered his fea- 
tures gradually to resolve themselves into a 
ghastly grin; and, nodding his head, left the 
room. 

Oliver leant his head upon his hand when 
the old man disappeared, and pondered with a 
trembling heart on the words he had just heard. 
The more he thought of the Jew's adm^onition, 
the more he was at a loss to divine its real pur- 
pose and meaning. He could think of no bad 
object to be attained by sending him to Sikes 
which would not be equally well answered by 
his remaining with Fagin ; and after meditating 
for a long time, concluded that he had been 
selected to perform some ordinary menial offices 
for the housebreaker, until another boy, better 
suited for his purpose, could be engaged. He 
was too well accustomed to suffering, and had 
suffered too much where he was, to bewail 



OLIVER TWIST. 6 

the prospect of a change very severely. He 
remained lost in thought for some minutes^ and 
then with a heavy sigh snuffed the candle, and 
taking up the book which the Jew had left with 
him, began to read. 

He turned over the leaves carelessly at first, 
but, lighting on a passage which attracted his 
attention, soon became intent upon the volume. 
It was a history of the lives and trials of great 
criminals, and the pages were soiled and 
thumbed with use. Here, he read of dreadful 
crimes that make the blood run cold ; of secret 
murders that had been committed by the lonely 
wayside, and bodies hidden from the eye of 
man in deep pits and wells, which would not 
keep them down, deep as they were, but had 
yielded them up at last, after many years, and 
so maddened the murderers with the sight, that 
in their horror they had confessed their guilt, 
and yelled for the gibbet to end their agony. 
Here, too, he read of men who, lying in their 
beds at dead of night, had been tempted and led 
on by their own bad thoughts to such dreadful 
bloodshed as it made the flesh creep and the 



6 OLIVER TWIST. 

limbs quail to think of. The terrible descrip- 
tions were so real and vivid^ that the sallow 
pages seemed to turn red with gore^ and the 
words upon them to be sounded in his ears as 
if they were whispered in hollow murmurs by 
the spirits of the dead. 

In a paroxysm of fear the boy closed the 
book and thrust it from him. Then^ falling 
upon his knees, he prayed Heaven to spare him 
from such deeds^ and rather to will that he 
should die at once, than be reserved for crimes 
so fearful and appalling. By degrees he grew 
more calm, and besought in a low and broken 
voice that he might be rescued from his present 
dangers, and that if any aid were to be raised 
up for a poor outcast boy, who had never known 
the love of friends or kindred, it might come to 
him now, when, desolate and deserted, he 
stood alone in the midst of wickedness and 
guilt. 

He had concluded his prayer, but still re- 
mained with his head buried in his hands^ when 
a rustling noise aroused him. 

"What's that!" he cried, starting up, and 



OLIVER TWIST. 7 

catching sight of a figure standing by the door, 
^^ Who's there?" 

" Me — only me/' replied a tremulous voice. 

Oliver raised the candle above his head, and 
looked towards the door. It was Nancy. 

" Put down the light/' said the girl, turning 
away her head : *^it hurts my eyes." 

Oliver saw that she was very pale, and gently 
inquired if she were ill. The girl threw herself 
into a chair, with her back towards him, and 
wrung her hands ; but made no reply. 

^^ God forgive me V she cried after a while, 
'' I never thought of all this.'' 

^^ Has any thing happened ?" asked Oliver. 
"Can I help you? I will if I can. I will in- 
deed." 

She rocked herself to and fro, caught her 
throat, and, uttering a gurgling sound, struggled, 
and gasped for breath. 

" Nancy !" cried Oliver, greatly alarmed. 
"What is it?" 

The girl beat her hands upon her knees, and 
her feet upon the ground, and, suddenly stop- 



8" OLIVER TWIST. 

ping, drew her shawl close round her, and 
shivered with cold. 

Oliver stirred the fire. Drawing her chair 
close to it, she sat there for a little time without 
speaking, but at length she raised her head, and 
looked round. 

" I don't know what comes over me some- 
times,'' said the girl, affecting to busy herself 
in arranging her dress ; '* it's this damp, dirty 
room, I think. Now, Nolly, dear, are you 
ready ?" 

"^ Am I to go with you ?" asked Oliver. 

" Yes ; I have come from Bill," replied the 
girl. ^^ You are to go with me." 

^^ What for ?" said Oliver recoihng. 

^'" What for !'' echoed the girl, raising her 
eyes, and averting them again the moment 
they encountered the boy's face. ^* Oh ! for no 
harm.'' 

" I don't believe it," said Oliver, who had 
watched her closely. 

^^ Have it your own way," rejoined the girl, 
affecting to laugh. ^^ For no good, then." 



OLIVER TWIST. 9 

Oliver could see that he had some power 
over the girl's better feelings, and for an instant 
thought of appealing to her compassion on his 
helpless state. But then the thought darted 
across his mind that it v/as barely eleven o'^clock, 
and that many people were still in the streets, of 
whom surely some might be found to give cre- 
dence to his tale. As the reflection occurred to 
him, he stepped forward, and said somewhat 
hastily that he was ready. 

Neither his brief consideration nor its pur- 
port w^ere lost upon his companion. She eyed 
him narrowly while he spoke, and cast upon 
him a look of intelligence which sufficiently 
showed that she guessed what had been passing 
in his thoughts. 

^' Hush !" said the girl, stooping over him, 
and pointing to the door as she looked cau- 
tiously round. " You can't help yourself. I 
have tried hard for you, but all to no purpose. 
You are hedged round and round, and, if ever 
you are to get loose from here, this is not the 
time.'' 

Struck by the energy of her manner, Oliver 



10 OLIVER TWIST. 

looked up in her face with great surprise. She 
seemed to speak the truth; her countenance 
was white and agitated^ and she trembled with 
very earnestness. 

'^ I have saved you from being ill-used once, 
and I will again, and I do now/' continued the 
girl aloud ; " for those who would have fetched 
you, if I had not, would have been far more 
rougli than me. I have promised for your 
being quiet and silent ; if you are not, you will 
only do harm to yourself and me too, and per- 
haps be my death. See here ! I have borne all 
this for you already, as true as God sees me 
show it.'' 

She pointed hastily to some livid bruises 
upon her neck and arms, and continued with 
great rapidity. 

^^ Remember this, and don't let me suffer 
more for you just now. If I could help you I 
would, but I have not the power. They don't 
mean to harm you, and whatever they make 
you do, is no fault of yours. Hush ! every 
word from you is a blow for me. Give me your 
hand— make haste, your hand !" 



OLIVER TWIST. 11 

She caught the hand which OUver instinc- 
tively placed in hers, and, blowing out the light, 
drew him after her up the stairs. The door 
was opened quickly by some one shrouded in 
the darkness, and as quickly closed when they 
had passed out, A hackney-cabriolet was in 
waiting ; and, with the same vehemence which 
she had exhibited in addressing Oliver, the 
girl pulled him in with her, and drew the cur- 
tains close. The driver wanted no directions, 
but lashed his horse into full speed without the 
delay of an instant. 

The girl still held Oliver fast by the hand, 
and continued to pour into his ear the warnings 
and assurances she had already imparted. All 
was so quick and hurried, that he had scarcely 
time to recollect where he was, or how he came 
there, when the carriage stopped at the same 
house to which the Jew's steps had been di- 
rected on the previous evening. 

For one brief moment Oliver cast a hurried 
glance along the empty street, and a cry for 
help hung upon his lips. But the girl's voice 
was in his ear, beseeching him in such tones of 



12 OLIVER TWIST. 

agony to remember her, that he had not the 
heart to utter it; while he hesitated^ the op- 
portunity was gone^ for he was already in the 
house, and the door was shut. 

^^ This way/^ said the girl, releasing her hold 
for the first time. '' Bill V 

" Hallo V^ replied Sikes, appearing at the 
head of the stairs with a candle. '^ Oh ! that's 
the time of day. Come on !" 

This was a very strong expression of appro- 
bation, and an uncommonly hearty welcome 
from a person of Mr. Sikes's temperament. 
Nancy, appearing much gratified thereby, saluted 
him cordially. 

^^ Bullseye's gone home with Tom,'' observed 
Sikes as he lighted them up. ^' He'd have been 
in the way." 

" That's right," rejoined Nancy. 

^^ So you've got the kid," said Sikes, Avhen 
they had all reached the room : closing the door 
as he spoke. 

^' Yes, here he is," replied Nancy. 

" Did he come quiet ?" inquired Sikes. 

^' Like a lamb," rejoined Nancy. 



OLIVER TWIST. 13 

" Fm glad to hear it/' said Sikes, looking 
grimly at Oliver^ '^ for the sake of his young 
carcase^ as would otherways have suffered for 
it. Come here, young un^ and let me read 
you a lectur', which is as well got over at 
once." 

Thus addressing his new protege, Mr. Sikes 
pulled off his cap and threw it into a corner ; 
and then_, taking him by the shoulder^ sat him- 
self down by the table^ and stood Oliver in front 
of him. 

" Now iirst_, do you know wot this is ?'' in- 
quired Sikes, taking up a pocket-pistol which 
lay on the table. 

Oliver replied in the affirmative. 

" Well then, look here/' continued Sikes. 
" This is powder, that 'ere's a bullet, and this 
is a little bit of a old hat for waddin'.'' 

Oliver murmured his comprehension of the 
different bodies referred to, and Mr. Sikes pro- 
ceeded to load the pistol with great nicety and 
deliberation. 

" Now it's loaded," said Mr. Sikes when he 
had finished. 



14 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ Yes, I see it is, sir," replied Oliver, trem- 
bling. 

" Well/^ said the robber, grasping Oliver's 
wrist tightly, and putting the barrel so close to 
his temple that they touched, at which moment 
the boy could not repress a shriek ; '^ if you 
speak a word when you're out o 'doors with me, 
except when I speak to you, that loading will 
be in your head without notice — so, if you do 
make up your mind to speak without leave, say 
your prayers first." 

Having bestowed a scowl upon the object of 
this warning, to increase its effect, Mr. Sikes 
continued, 

" As near as T know, there isn't any body as 
would be asking very partickler arter you, if 
you was disposed of; so I needn't take this 
devil-and-all of trouble to explain matters to 
you if it warn't for your own good. D'ye 
hear me ?" 

^^ The short and the long of what you mean,'^ 
said Nancy, speaking very emphatically, and 
slightly frowning at Oliver as if to bespeak his 
serious attention to her words, " is, that if 



OLIVER TWIST. 15 

you're crossed by liim in this job you have on 
hand^ you'll prevent his ever telling tales after- 
wards by shooting him through the head^ and 
take your chance of swinging for it as you do 
for a great many other things in the way of 
business every month of your life.'^ 

^^ That^s it ! '' observed Mr. Sikes^ approv- 
ingly ; '^ women can always put things in 
fewest words, except when it's blowing up, and 
then they lengthens it out. And now that he's 
thoroughly up to it, let's have some supper, and 
get a snooze afore starting.'' 

In pursuance of this request, Nancy quickly 
laid the cloth, and, disappearing for a few 
minutes, presently returned with a pot of porter 
and a dish of sheep's heads, which gave occa- 
sion to several pleasant witticisms on the part 
of Mr. Sikes, founded upon the singular coinci- 
dence of " jemmies" being a cant name com- 
mon to them and an ingenious implement much 
used in his profession. Indeed, the worthy 
gentleman, stimulated perhaps by the imme- 
diate prospect of being in active service, was in 
great spirits and good-humour 5 in proof whereof 



16 OLIVER TWIST. 

it may be here remarked that he humorously 
drank all the beer at a draughty and did not 
utter^ on a rough calculation^ more than four- 
score oaths durmg the whole progress of the 
meal. 

Supper being ended — it may be easily con- 
ceived that Oliver had no great appetite for it 
— Mr. Sikes disposed of a couple of glasses of 
spirits and water^ and threw himself upon the 
bed^ ordering Nancy, with many imprecations 
in case of failure^ to call him at five precisely. 
Oliver stretched himself in his clothes by com- 
mand of the same authority, on a mattress 
upon the floor ; and the girl, mending the fire 
sat before it, in readiness to rouse them at the 
appointed time. 

For a long time Oliver lay awake, thinking it 
not impossible that Nancy might seek that op- 
portunity of whispering some further advice, 
but the girl sat brooding over the fire without 
moving, save now and then to trim the light. 
Weary with watching and anxiety, he at length 
fell asleep. 

When he awoke, the table was covered with 



OLIVER TWIST. 17 

tea-things, and Sikes was thrusting various 
articles into the pockets of his great-coat, which 
hung over the back of a chair, while Nancy was 
busily engaged in preparing breakfast. It was 
not yet daylight, for the candle was still burn- 
ing, and it was quite dark outside. A sharp 
rain, too, was beating against the window-panes, 
and the sky looked black and cloudy. 

^^ Now, then ! " growled Sikes, as Oliver 
started up ; " half-past five ! Look sharp, or 
you'll get no breakfast, for it's late as it is." 

Oliver was not long in making his toilet; 
and, having taken some breakfast, replied to a 
surly inquiry from Sikes, by saying that he was 
quite ready. 

Nancy, scarcely looking at the boy, threw 
him a handkerchief to tie round his throat, and 
Sikes gave him a large rough cape to button 
over his shoulders. Thus attired, he gave his 
hand to the robber, who, merely pausing to 
show him with a menacing gesture, that he had 
the pistol in a side pocket of his great-coat, 
clasped it firmly in his, and, exchanging a fare- 
well with Nancy led him away. 

VOL. II. c 



18 OLIVER TWIST. 

Oliver turned for an instant when they 
reached the door, in the hope of meeting a look 
from the girl. But she had resumed her old seat 
in front of the fire, and sat perfectly motionless 
before it. 



OLIVER TWIST. 19 



CHAPTER XXL 



THE EXrEDITION. 



It was a cheerless morning when they got 
into the street, blowing and raining hard, and 
the clouds looking dull and stormy. The night 
had been very wet, for large pools of water had 
collected in the road and the kennels were over- 
flowing. There was a faint glimmering of the 
coming day in the sky, but it rather aggravated 
than relieved the gloom of the scene : the sombre 
light only serving to pale that which the street- 
lamps afforded, without sheddhig any v/armer 
or brighter tints upon the wet housetops and 
dreary streets. There appeared to be nobody 
stirring in that quarter of the town, for the 
windows of the houses were all closely shut, 
c 2 



20 OLIVER TWIST. 

and the streets through which they passed 
were noiseless and empty. 

By the time they liad turned into the Bethnal 
Green road, the day had fairly begun to break. 
Many of the lamps were already extinguished, a 
few country waggons were slowly toiling on to- 
wards London, and now and then a stagecoach, 
covered with mud, rattled briskly by ; the driver 
bestowing, as he passed, an admonitory lash 
upon the heavy waggoner who by keeping on 
the wrong side of the road, had endangered his 
arriving at the office a quarter of a minute after 
his time. The public-houses, with gas-lights 
burning inside, were already open. By degrees 
other shops began to be unclosed, and a few 
scattered people were met with. Then came 
straggling groups of labourers going to their 
work ; then men and women with fish-baskets 
on their heads ; donkey-carts laden with vegeta- 
bles, chaise-carts filled with live-stock or whole 
carcasses of meat ; milkwomen with pails ; and an 
unbroken concourse of people trudging out with 
various supplies to the eastern suburbs of the 
town. As they approached the City, the noise 



OLIVER TWIST. 21 

and traffic gradually increased ; and^ when they 
threaded the streets between Shoreditch and 
Smithfield^ it had swelled into a roar of sound 
and bustle. It was as light as it was likely to 
be till night came on again^ and the busy morn- 
ing of half the London population had begun. 

Turning down Sun-street and Crown-street 
and crossing Finsbury-square^ Mr. Sikes struck, 
by way of Chiswell-street into Barbican, thence 
into Long-lane, and so into Smithfield, from 
which latter place arose a tumult of discordant 
sounds that filled Oliver Twist with surprise 
and amazement. 

It was market-morning. The ground was 
covered nearly ankle-deep with filth and mire ; 
and a thick steam perpetually rising from the 
reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with 
the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chim- 
ney-tops, hung heavily above. All the pens in 
the centre of the large area, and as many tem- 
porary ones as could be crowded into the vacant 
space were filled with sheep ; and, tied up to 
posts by the gutter side were long lines of 



22 OLIVER TWIST. 

beasts and oxen three or four deep. Country- 
men^ butchers, drovers, hawkers, ])oys, thieves, 
idlers, and vagabonds of every lov/ grade, were 
mingled together in a dense mass • the whistling 
of drovers, the barking of dogs, the bellowing 
and plunging of beasts, the bleating of sheep 
and grunting and squeaking of pigs ; the cries 
of hawkers, the shouts, oaths, and quarrelling 
on all sides, the ringing of bells and roar of 
voices that issued from every public-house ; the 
crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping, 
and yelling; the hideous and discordant din 
that resounded from every corner of the market ; 
and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, and dirty 
figures constantly running to and fro, and 
bursting in and out of the throng, rendered it 
a stunning and bewildering scene which quite 
confounded the senses. 

Mr. Sikes, dragging Oliver after him, elbowed 
his way through the thickest of the crowd, and 
bestowed very little attention upon the nume- 
rous sights and sounds which so astonished the 
boy. He nodded twice or thrice to a passing 



OLIVER TWIST. 23 

friend^ and^ resisting as many invitations to 
take a morning dram^ pressed steadily onward 
until they were clear of the turmoil^ and had 
made their way through Hosier-lane into Hol- 
born. 

" Now, young un !" said Sikes surlily, look- 
ing up at the clock of St. Andrew's church, 
^' hard upon seven ! you must step out. Come* 
don't lag behind already, Lazy-legs !" 

Mr. Sikes accompanied this speech with a 
fierce jerk at his little companion's wrist ; and 
Oliver, quickening his pace into a kind of trot, 
betv/een a fast walk and a run, kept up with 
the rapid strides of the housebreaker as well as 
he could. 

They kept on their course at this rate until 
they had passed Hyde Park corner, and were 
on their way to Kensington, wlien Sikes re- 
laxed his pace until an empty cart vv^hich was at 
some little distance behind, came up : when, 
seeing '^ Hounslow " written upon it, he asked 
the driver, with as much civility as he could 
assume, if he would give them a lift as far as 
Isleworth. 



24 OLIVER TWIST. 

"Jump up/^ said the man. "Is that your 
boy?'' 

" Yes ; he's my boy/' rephed Sikes, look- 
ing hard at Oliver^ and putting his hand 
abstractedly into the pocket where the pistol 
was. 

" Your father walks rather too quick for you ; 
don't he^ my man ?" inquired the driver^ seeing 
that Oliver was out of breath. 

" Not a bit of it/' replied Sikes, interposing. 
" He's used to it. Here^ take hold of my hand, 
Ned. In with you !" 

Thus addressing Oliver, he helped him into 
the cart ; and the driver, pointing to a heap of 
sacks, told him to lie down there, and rest him- 
self. 

As they passed the different milestones, 
Oliver wondered more and m.ore where his 
companion meant to take him. Kensington, 
Hammersmxith, Chiswick, Kew Bridge, Brent- 
ford, were all passed ; and yet they kept on as 
steadily as if they had only begun their journey. 
At length they came to a public-house called 
the Coach and Horses, a little way beyond 



OLIVER TWIST. 25 

whicli another road appeared to turn off. And 
here the cart stopped. 

Sikes dismounted with great precipitation, 
holding Oliver by the hand all the while; 
and, lifting him down directly, bestowed a 
furious look upon him, and rapped the side- 
pocket with his fist in a very significant 
manner. 

^^ Good-b'ye, boy,'^ said the man. 

" He^s sulky,^^ replied Sikes, giving him a 
shake; ^^he^s sulky, — a young dog! Don^t 
mind him.^' 

" Not I V rejoined the other, getting into his 
cart. ^^It's a fine day, after all.^^ And he 
drove away. 

Sikes waited till he had fairly gone, and then, 
telling Oliver he might look about him if he 
wanted, once again led him forward on his 
journey. 

They turned round to the left a short way 
past the public-house, and then, taking a right- 
hand road, walked on for a long time, passing 
many large gardens and gentlemen's houses on 



26 OLIVER TWIST. 

both sides of the way, and stopping for nothing 
but a Uttle beer, until they reached a town, in 
which, against the wall of a house, Oliver saw 
written up in pretty large letters, "■ Hampton." 
Here they lingered about in the fields for some 
hours. At length they came back into the 
town, and keeping on past a public-house 
which bore the sign of the Red Lion, and by 
the river- side for a short distance, they came to 
an old public-house with a defaced sign-board, 
and ordered some dinner by the kitchen fire. 

The kitchen was an old low-roofed room, 
with a great beam across the middle of the ceil- 
ing, and benches with high backs to them by 
the fire, on which were seated several rough 
men in smock-frocks, drinking and smoking. 
They took no notice of Oliver, and very little 
of Sikes ; and, as Sikes took very little notice 
of them, he and his young comrade sat in a 
corner by themselves, without being much trou- 
bled by the company. 

They had some cold meat for dinner, and sat 
here so long after it, while Mr. Sikes indulged 



OLIVER TWIST. 27 

himself with three or four pipes, that Ohver 
began to feel quite certain they were not going 
any further. Being much tired with the 
walk and getting up so early, he dozed a 
little at first, and then, quite overpowered 
by fatigue and the fumes of the tobacco, fell 
fast asleep. 

It was quite dark when he was awakened 
by a push from Sikes. Rousing himself suf- 
ficiently to sit up and look about him, he 
found that worthy in close fellowship and com- 
munication with a labouring man, over a pint 
of ale. 

" So, you're going on to Lower Halliford, are 
you ?" inquired Sikes. 

" Yes, I am,'^ replied the man, who seemed a 
little the worse — or better, as the case might be 
— for drinking ; ^^and not slow about it neither. 
My horse hasn't got a load behind him going 
back, as he had coming up in the mornin', and 
he won't be long a-doing of it. Here's luck to 
him ! Ecod, he's a good un 1^^ 

'• Could you give my boy and me a lift as far 



28 OLIVER TWIST. 

as there ?" demanded Sikes, pushing the ale to- 
wards his new friend. 

" If you^re going directly, I can/^ replied the 
man, looking out of the pot. " Are you going 
toHalUford?^ 

^^ Going on to Shepperton/^ replied Sikes. 

'^ Pm your man as far as I go/^ replied the 
other. '^ Is all paid, Becky V* 

"Yes, the other gentleman's paid/^ replied 
the girl. 

^^ I say !" said the man with tipsy gravity, 
" that won^t do, you know.^^ 

"Why not?^^ rejoined Sikes. "You're a- 
going to accommodate us, and wot's to pre- 
vent my standing treat for a pint or so, in 
return ?'^ 

The stranger reflected upon this argument 
with a very profound face, and, having done so, 
seized Sikes by the hand and declared he was 
a real good fellow. To which Mr. Sikes replied 
he was joking; — as, if he had been sober, there 
would have been strong reason to suppose he 
was. 



OLIVER TWIST. 2% 

After the exchange of a few more compli- 
ments^ they bade the company good night, and 
went out : the girl gathering up the pots and 
glasses as they did so, and lounging out to the 
door, with her hands full, to see the party 
start. 

The horse, whose health had been drunk in 
his absence, was standing outside, ready har- 
nessed to the cart. Oliver and Sikes got in 
without any further ceremony, and the man, to 
whom he belonged, having lingered a minute or 
two '^ to bear him up,^^ and to defy the hostler 
and the world to produce his equal, mounted 
also. Then the hostler was told to give the 
horse his head, and, his head being given him, 
he made a very unpleasant use of it, tossing it 
into the air with great disdain, and running into 
the parlour windows over the way ; after per- 
forming which feats, and supporting himself for 
a short time on his hind-legs, he started off at 
great speed, and rattled out of the town right 
gallantly. 

The night was very dark. A damp mist 
rose from the river and the marshy ground about. 



30 OLIVER TWIST. 

and spread itself over the dreary fields. It was 
piercing cold, too ; all was gloomy and black. 
Not a word was spoken, for the driver had 
grown sleepy, and Sikes was in no mood to 
lead him into conversation. Oliver sat huddled 
together in a corner of the cart, bewildered with 
alarm and apprehension, and figuring strange 
objects in the gaunt trees, whose branches 
waved grimly to and fro as if in some fantastic 
joy at the desolation of the scene. 

As they passed Sunbury church, the clock 
struck seven. There was a light in the ferry- 
house window opposite, which streamed across 
the road, and threw into more sombre shadow 
a dark yew-tree with graves beneath it. There 
was a dull sound of falling water not far off, and 
the leaves of the old tree stirred gently in the 
night wind. It seemed like quiet music for the 
repose of the dead. 

Sunbury was passed through, and they came 
again into the lonely road. Two or three miles 
more, and the cart stopped. Sikes alighted, 
and, taking Oliver by the hand, they once again 
walked on. 



OLIVER TWIST. 31 

They turned into no house at Shepperton as 
the weary boy had expected, but still kept 
walking on in mud and darkness through 
gloomy lanes and over cold open wastes_, until 
they came within sight of the lights of a town 
at no great distance. On looking intently for- 
ward, Oliver saw that the v/ater Avas just below 
them, and that they were coming to the foot of 
a bridge. 

Sikes kept straight on till they were close 
upon the bridge, and then turned suddenly 
down a bank upon the left. " The water !^' 
thought Oliver, turning sick with fear. " He 
has brought me to this lonely place to murder 
me!" 

He was about to throw himself on the 
ground, and make one struggle for his young 
life, when he saw that they stood before a 
solitary house, all ruinous and decayed. There 
was a window on each side of the dilapidated 
entrance, and one story above; but no light 
was visible. It was dark, dismantled, and to 
all appearance uninhabited. 



32 OLIVER TWIST. 

Sikes, with Oliver^s hand still in his, softly 
approached the low porch, and raised the latch. 
The door yielded to the pressure, and they 
passed in together. 



OLIVER TWIST. 33 



CHAPTER XXII. 



THE BURGLARY. 



^^ Hallo V' cried a loud^ hoarse voice^ di- 
rectly they had set foot in the passage. 

"Don't make such a row/^ said Sikes, bolt- 
ing the door. ^' Show a glim^ Toby.^^ 

" Aha ! my pal/' cried the same voice ; a 
glim^ Barney, a glim ! Show the gentleman in, 
Barney ; and wake up first, if convenient.'' 

The speaker appeared to throw a boot-jack, 
or some such article, at the person he addressed 
to rouse him from his slumbers ; for the noise 
of a wooden body falling violently was heard, 
and then an indistinct muttering as of a man 
between asleep and awake. 

"Do you hear?" cried the same voice. 
" There's Bill Sikes in the passage with no- 
body to do the civil to him 3 and you sleeping 

VOL. II. D 



34 OLIVER TWIST. 

there^ as if you took laudanum with your 
meals^ and nothing stronger. Are you any 
fresher now, or do you want the iron candle- 
stick to wake you thoroughly V . 

A pair of slipshod feet shuffled hastily across 
the bare floor of the room as this interrogatory 
was put ; and there issued from a door on the 
right hand, first a feeble candle, and next, the 
form of the same individual who has been here- 
tofore described as labouring under the infirmity 
of speaking through his nose, and officiating as 
waiter at the public-house on Saffron Hill. 

^^ Bister Sikes !" exclaimed Barney, with 
real or counterfeit joy ; " cub id, sir; cub id." 

'^ Here ! you get on first," said Sikes, putting 
Oliver in front of him. " Quicker ! or I shall 
tread upon your heels." 

Muttering a curse upon his tardiness, Sikes 
pushed Oliver before him, and they entered a 
low dark room with a smoky fire, two or three 
broken chairs, a table, and a very old couch, on 
which, with his legs much higher than his head, 
a man was reposing at full length, smoking a 



OLIVER TWIST. 35 

long clay pipe. He was dressed in a smartly- 
cut snufF-coloured coat with large brass buttons, 
an orange neckerchief, a coarse, staring, shawl- 
pattern waistcoat, and drab breeches. Mr. 
Crackit (for he it was) had no very great quan- 
tity of hair, either upon his head or face, but 
what he had was of a reddish dye, and tortured 
into long corkscrew curls, through which he 
occasionally thrust some very dirty fingers or- 
namented with large common rings. He was a 
trifle above the middle size, and apparently 
rather weak in the legs ; but this circumstance 
by no means detracted from his own admira- 
tion of his top-boots, which he contemplated 
in their elevated situation with lively satis- 
faction. 

^^ Bill, my boy ?' said this figure, turning his 
head towards the door, " Fm glad to see you. 
I was almost afraid you'd given it up, in which 
case I should have made a personal wentur. 

Hallo \'' 

Uttering this exclamation in a tone of great 

surprise as his eyes rested on Oliver, Mr. Toby 

d2 



36 OLIVER TWIST. 

Crackit brought himself into a sitting posture 
and demanded who that was. 

"The boy — only the boy !^' rephed Sikes, 
drawing a chair towards the lire. 

" Wud of Bister Fagid's lads/^ exclaimed 
Barney, with a grin. 

" Fagin^s, eh I'' exclaimed Toby, looking at 
Oliver. "Wot an inwalable boy that'll make 
for the old ladies' pockets in chapels. His 
mug is a fortun^ to him.'^ 

" There — there's enough of that/' inter- 
posed Sikes impatiently; and, stooping over 
his recumbent friend he whispered a few words 
in his ear, at which Mr. Crackit laughed im- 
mensely, and honoured Oliver with a long stare 
of astonishment. 

" Now," said Sikes, as he resumed his seat, 
" if you'll give us something to eat and drink 
while we're waiting, you'll put some heart in 
us, — or in me, at all events. Sit down by the 
fire, younker, and rest yourself; for you'll have 
to go out with us again to-night, though not 
very far off." 



OLIVER TWIST. 37 

Oliver looked at Sikes in mute and timid 
wonder, and, drawing a stool to the fire, sat 
with his aching head upon his hands scarcely 
knowing where he was, or what was passing 
around him. 

^^ Here,'^ said Toby, as the young Jew placed 
some fragments of food and a bottle upon the 
table, " Success to the crack !" He rose to 
honour the toast, and, carefully depositing his 
empty pipe in a corner, advanced to the table, 
filled a glass with spirits, and drank off its con- 
tents. Mr. Sikes did the same. 

" A drain for the boy,'' said Toby, half fill- 
ing a wine-glass. " Down with it, innocence." 

" Indeed,'' said Oliver, looking piteously up 
into the man's face ; ^' indeed I " 

^^ Down with it !" echoed Toby. ^^ Do you 
think I don't know what's good for you ? Tell 
him to drink it. Bill." 

^^ He had better," said Sikes, clapping his 
hand upon his pocket. " Burn my body, if 
he isn't more trouble than a whole family oi 
Dodgers. Drink it, you perwerse imp ; drink 
it !" 



38 OLIVER TWIST. 

Frightened by the menacing gestures of the 
two men, Oliver hastily swallowed the contents 
of the glass, and immediately fell into a violent 
fit of coughing, which delighted Toby Crackit 
and Barney, and even drew a smile from the 
surly Mr. Sikes. 

This done, and Sikes having satisfied his 
appetite (Ohver could eat nothing but a small 
crust of bread which they made him swallow), 
the two men laid themselves down on chairs for 
a short nap. Oliver retained his stool by the 
fire; and Barney, wrapped in a blanket, 
stretched himself on the floor, close outside the 
fender. 

They slept, or appeared to sleep, for some 
time: nobody stirring but Barney, who rose 
once or twice to throw coals upon the fire. 
Oliver fell into a heavy doze, imagining himself 
straying along through the gloomy lanes, or 
wandering about the dark churchyard, or re- 
tracing some one or other of the scenes of 
the past day, when he was roused by Toby 
Crackit jumping up and declaring it was half- 
past one. 



OLIVER TWIST. 39 

In an instant the other two were on their 
legs^ and all were actively engaged in busy- 
preparation. Sikes and his companion enve- 
loped their necks and chins in large dark 
shawls, and drew on their great-coats, while 
Barney, opening a cupboard, brought forth 
several articles which he hastily crammed into 
the pockets, 

'^ Barkers for me, Barney," said Toby 
Crackit. 

. ^^ Here they are," replied Barney, producing 
a pair of pistols. ^* You loaded them, your- 
self." 

" All right !" replied Toby, stowing them 
away. " The persuaders ?" 

" IVe got ^em," replied Sikes. 

" Crape, keys, centre-bits, darkies — nothing 
forgotten?" inquired Toby, fastening a small 
crowbar to a loop inside the skirt of his coat. 

" All right," rejoined his companion. '^ Bring 
them bits of timber, Barney : ^^ that's the time 
of day." 

With these words he took a thick stick from 
Barne/s hands, who, having delivered another 



40 OLIVER TWIST. 

to Toby, busied himself in fastening on Oliver's 
cape. 

, ^^ Now then !'' said Sikes^ holding out his 
hand. 

Oliver, who was completely stupified by the 
unwonted exercise, and the air, and the drink 
that had been forced upon him, put his hand 
mechanically into that which Sikes extended 
for the purpose. 

'' Take his other hand, Toby/' said Sikes. 
" Look out, Barney." 

The man v/ent to the door, and returned to 
announce that all was quiet. The two robbers 
issued forth with Oliver between them; and 
Barney, having made all fast, rolled himself up 
as before, and was soon asleep again. 

It was now intensely dark. The fog was 
much heavier than it had been in the early 
part of the night, and the atmosphere was so 
damp that, although no rain fell, Oliver's hair 
and eyebrows within a few minutes after leaving 
the house had become stiff with tlie half-frozen 
moisture that was floating about. They crossed 
the bridge, and kept on towards the lights 



OLIVEIl TWIST. 41 

which he had seen before. They were at no 
great distance off; and-, as they walked pretty 
briskly, they soon arrived at Chertsey. 

" Slap through the town," wliispered Sikes : 
^* there'll be nobody in the wayjto-night to see 
us/' 

Toby acquiesced ; and they hurried through 
the main street of the little town, which at that 
late hour was wholly deserted. A dim light 
shone at intervals from some bedroom-window, 
and the hoarse barking of dogs occasionally 
broke the silence of the night ; but there was 
nobody abroad, and they had cleared the town 
as the church bell struck two. 

Quickening their pace, they turned up a road 
upon the left hand. After walking about a quar- 
ter of a mile, they stopped before a detached 
house surrounded by a wall, to the top of which 
Toby Crackit, scarcely pausing to take breath, 
climbed in a twinkling. 

" The boy next," said Toby. " Hoist him 
up : I'll catch hold of him." 

Before Oliver had time to look round, Sikes 
had caught him under the arms, and in three 



4^ OLIVER TWIST. 

or four seconds he and Toby were lying on the 
grass on the other side. Sikes followed di- 
rectly^ and they stole cautiously towards the 
house. 

And now, for the first time, Oliver, well nigh 
mad with grief and terror, saw that housebreak- 
ing and robbery, if not murder, were the objects 
of the expedition. He clasped his hands 
together, and involuntarily uttered a subdued 
exclamation of horror. A mist came before 
his eyes, the cold sweat stood upon his ashy 
face, his limbs failed him, and he sunk upon his 
knees. 

^^ Get up !" murmured Sikes, trembling with 
rage, and drawing the pistol from his pocket; 
*^ get up, or I'll strew your brains upon the 
grass. '^ 

'^ Oh ! for God's sake let me go !" cried 
Oliver ; " let me run away and die in the fields. 
I will never come near London, never, never ! 
Oh ! pray have mercy upon me, and do not 
make me steal. For the love of all the bright 
angels that rest in heaven, have mercy upon me V^ 

The man to whom this appeal was made 



OLIVER TWIST. 43 

swore a dreadful oath, and had cocked the 
pistol, when Toby, striking it from his grasp, 
placed his hand upon the boy^s mouth and 
dragged him to the house. 

^^ Hush V' cried the man ; ^^ it won't answer 
here. Say another word, and 1^11 do your 
business myself with a crack on the head that 
makes no noise, and is quite as certain and 
more genteel. Here, Bill, wrench the shutter 
open. He's game enough, now, I'll engage. 
I've seen older hands of his age took the same 
way for a minute or two on a cold night." 

Sikes, invoking terrific imprecations upon 
Fagin's head for sending Oliver on such an 
errand, plied the crowbar vigorously, but 
with little noise ; after some delay and some 
assistance from Toby, the shutter to which he 
had referred swung open on its hinges. 

It was a little lattice window, about five feet 
and a half above the ground, at the back of 
the house, which belonged to a scullery or small 
brewing-place at the end of the passage : the 
aperture was so small that the inmates had pro- 
bably not thought it worth while to defend it 



44 OLIVER TWIST. 

more securely ; but it was large enough to 
admit a boy of Oliver's size nevertheless. A 
very brief exercise of Mr. Sikes's art sufficed to 
overcome the fastening of the lattice, and it 
soon stood wide open also. 

" Now listen, you young limb," whispered 
Sikes, drawing a dark lantern from his pocket, 
and throwing the glare full on Oliver's face ; 
^' I'm a going to put you through there. Take 
this light, go softly up the steps straight afore 
you, and along the little hall to the street-door. 
Unfasten it, and let us in." 

" There's a bolt at the top you won't be able 
to reach," interposed Toby. ^^ Stand upon one 
of the hall chairs ; there are three there. Bill, 
with a jolly large blue unicorn and a gold pitch- 
fork on 'em, which is the old lady's arms." 

^^ Keep quiet, can't you ?" replied Sikes with 
a threatening look. " The room- door is open, 
is it ?"" 

" Wide," replied Toby, after peeping in to 
satisfy himself. " The game of that is that they 
always leave it open with a catch, so that the 
dog, who's got a bed in here, may walk up and 



OLIVER TWIST. 45 

down the passage when he feels wakeful. Ha ! 
ha ! Barney ^ticed him away to-night, so neat." 
Although Mr. Crackit spoke in a scarcely 
audible whisper, and laughed without noise, 
Sikes imperiously commanded him to be silent, 
and to get to work. Toby complied by first 
producing his lantern, and placing it on the 
ground ; and then planting himself firmly with 
his head against the wall beneath the window^, 
and his hands upon his knees, so as to make a 
step of his back. This was no sooner done 
than Sikes, mounting upon him, put Oliver 
gently through the window with his feet first ; 
and, without leaving hold of his collar, planted 
him safely on the floor inside. 

^^ Take this lantern,^^ said Sikes, looking 
into the room. " You see the stairs afore 
you.^^ 

Oliver, more dead than alive, gasped out, 
" Yes ;" and Sikes, pointing to the street-door 
with the pistol-barrel, briefly advised him to 
take notice that he was within shot all the way, 
and that if he faltered he would fall dead that 
instant. 



46 OLIVER TWIST. 

" It's done in a minute/^ said Sikes in the 
same low whisper. " Directly I leave go of 
you, do your work. Hark I" 

" What^s that ?" whispered the other man. 

They listened intently. 

" Nothing/^ said Sikes, releasing his hold of 
Oliver. " Now \" 

In the short time he had had to collect his 
senses, the boy had firmly resolved that, whe- 
ther he died in the attempt or not, he would 
make one effort to dart up stairs from the hall 
and alarm the family. Filled with this idea, he 
advanced at once, but stealthily. 

^' Come back !^^ suddenly cried Sikes aloud. 
« Back ! back !" 

Scared by the sudden breaking of the dead 
stillnes of the place, and a loud cry which fol- 
lowed it, Oliver let his lantern fall, and knew 
not whether to advance or fly. 

The cry was repeated — a light appeared — a 
vision of two terrified half-dressed men at the 
top of the stairs sv/am before his eyes — a flash — 
a loud noise — a smoke — a crash somewhere, but 
where he knew not, — and he staggered back. 



OLIVER TWIST. 47 

Sikes had disappeared for an instant ; but he 
was up again, and had him by the collar before 
the smoke had cleared away. He fired his own 
pistol after the men who were already retreat- 
ing, and dragged the boy up. 

" Clasp your arm tighter/' said Sikes as he 
drew him through the window. "Give me a 
shawl here. They've hit him. Quick ! Dam- 
nation, how the boy bleeds \" 

Then came the loud ringing of a bell, mingled 
with the noise of fire-arms and the shouts of 
men, and the sensation of being carried over 
uneven ground nt a rapid pace. And then the 
noises grew confused in the distance, and a cold 
deadly feeling crept over the boy's heart, and 
he saw or heard no more. 



4S OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

WHICH CONTAINS THE SUBSTANCE OF A PLEASANT CONVER- 
SATION BETWEEN MR. BUMBLE AND A LADY; AND SHOWS 
THAT EVEN A BEADLE MAY BE SUSCEPTIBLE ON SOME 
POINTS. 

The night was bitter cold. The snow lay 
upon the ground frozen into a hard thick crust, 
so that only the heaps that had drifted into by- 
ways and corners were affected by the sharp 
wind that howled abroad, which, as if expend- 
ing increased fury on such prey as it found, 
caught it savagely up in clouds, and, whirling it 
into a thousand misty eddies, scattered it in air. 
Bleak, dark, and piercing cold, it was a night 
for the Vv'ell-housed and fed to draw round the 
bright fire and thank God they were at home, 
and for the homeless starving wretch to lay 
him down and die. Many hunger-vrorn out- 



OLIVER TWIST. 49 

casts close their eyes in our bare streets at such 
times, who, let their crimes have been what 
they may, can hardly open them in a more 
bitter world. 

Such was the aspect of out-of-doors affairs 
when Mrs. Corney, the matron of the work- 
house to which our readers have been already 
introduced as the birthplace of Oliver Twist, 
sat herself down before a cheerful fire in her 
own little room, and glanced with no small de- 
gree of complacency at a small round table, on 
which stood a tray of corresponding size fur- 
nished with all necessary materials for the most 
grateful meal that matrons enjoy. In fact, 
Mrs. Corney was about to solace herself with a 
cup of tea : and as she glanced from the table 
to the fireplace, where the smallest of all pos- 
sible kettles was singing a small song in a small 
voice, her inward satisfaction evidently in- 
creased, — so much so, indeed, that Mrs. Corney 
smiled. 

^^ WelV^ said the matron, leaning her elbow 
on the table, and looking reflectively at the 
fire, " I'm sure we have all on us a great deal 

VOL. II. E 



50 OLIVER TWIST. 

to be grateful for — a great deal, if we did but 
know it. Ah!" 

Mrs. Corney shook her he admournfully, as if 
deploring the mental blindness of those paupers 
who did not know it, and, thrusting a silver 
spoon (private property) into the inmost re- 
cesses of a two-ounce tin tea-caddy, proceeded 
to make the tea. 

How slight a thing will disturb the equa- 
nimity of our frail minds ! The black teapot, 
being very small and easily filled, ran over 
while Mrs. Corney was moralizing, and the 
water slightly scalded Mrs. Corney's hand. 

" Drat the pot !" said the worthy matron, 
setting it down very hastily on the hob; "a 
little stupid thing, that only holds a couple of 
cups ! What use is it of to any body ? — ex- 
cept." said Mrs. Corney, pausing, — " except 
to a poor desolate creature like me. Oh 
dear!" 

With these words the matron dropped into 
her chair, and, once more resting her elbow on 
the table, thought of her solitary fate. The 
sm.all teapot, and the single cup had awakened 



OLIVER TWIST. 51 

in her mind sad recollections of Mr. Corney 
(who had not been dead more than five-and- 
twenty years), and she was overpowered. 

" I shall never get another !" said Mrs. 
Corney, pettishly, " I shall never get another 
— likehim.^^ 

Whether this remark bore reference to the 
husband or the teapot is uncertain. It might 
have been the latter ; for Mrs. Corney looked 
at it as she spoke, and took it up afterwards. 
She had just tasted her first cup, when she was 
disturbed by a soft tap at the room-door. 

^^ Oh, come in with you V' said Mrs. Corney, 
sharply. "Some of the old women dying, I 
suppose ; — they always die when I'm at meals. 
Don't stand there, letting the cold air in, don't 
"What's amiss now, eh ?" 

" Nothing, ma'am, nothing,'' replied a man's 
voice. 

" Dear me !" exclaimed the matron in a 
much sweeter tone, "is that Mr. Bumble?" 

^* At your service, ma'am," said Mr. Bum- 
ble, who had been stopping outside to rub his 
shoes clean, and shake the snow off his coat, 
£ 2 



52 OLIVER TWIST. 

and who now made his appearance, bearing the 
cocked-hat in one hand and a bundle in the 
other. " Shall I shut the door, ma'am ?^^ 

The lady modestly hesitated to reply, lest 
there should be any impropriety in holding an 
interview with Mr. Bumble with closed doors. 
Mr. Bumble, taking advantage of the hesita- 
tion, and being very cold himself, shut it with- 
out farther permission. 

" Hard weather, Mr. Bumble,'^ said the 
matron. 

" Hard, indeed, ma'am,^^ replied the beadle. 
*' Anti-porochial weather this, ma'am. We have 
given away, Mrs. Corney, — we have given away 
a matter of twenty quartern loaves and a 
cheese and a half, this very blessed afternoon ; 
and yet them paupers are not contented.^^ 

" Of course not. When would they be, Mr. 
Bumble ?'^ said the matron, sipping her tea. 

^^ When, indeed, ma'am ?' rejoined Mr. Bum- 
ble. '^ Why, here's one man that, in considera- 
tion of his wife and large family, has a quartern 
loaf and a good pound of cheese, full weight. 
Is he grateful, ma^am, — is he grateful ? Not a 



OLIVER TWIST. 63 

copper farthing's worth of it ! What does he 
do, ma'am, but ask for a few coals, if its only a 
pocket-handkerchief full, he says ! Coals ! — 
what would he do with coals ? — Toast his 
cheese with 'em, and then come back for more. 
That's the way with these people, ma'am ; — 
give 'em a apron full of coals to-day, and they'll 
come back for another the day after to-morrow, 
as brazen as alabaster." 

The matron expressed her entire concurrence 
in this intelligible simile, and the beadle went 
on. 

'■^ I never," said Mr. Bumble, ^^ see any thing 
like the pitch it's got to. The day afore yes- 
terday, a man — you have been a married wo- 
man, ma'am, and I may mention it to you — a 
man, with hardly a rag upon his back (here 
Mrs. Corney looked at the floor), goes to our 
overseer's door when he has got company 
coming to dinner, and says he must be re- 
lieved, Mrs. Corney. As he wouldn't go away, 
and shocked the company very much, our over- 
seer sent him out a pound of potatoes and half 
a pint of oatmeal. ^ My God 1' says the un- 



54 OLIVER TWIST. 

grateful villain, ^ what^s the use of this to me ? 
You might as well give me a pair of iron spec- 
tacles' — ^ Very good/ says our overseer, taking 
^em away again, ' you Avon^t get any thing else 
here/ — ^ Then 1^11 die in the streets P says the 
vagrant. — ^ Oh no, you won^t,' says our over- 
Seer. 

" Ha ! ha ! — that was very good ! — so like 
Mr. Grannet, Avasn't it?'^ interposed the ma- 
tron. "Well, Mr. Bumble V 

"Well, ma'am,'^ rejoined the beadle, "he 
went away and did die in the streets. There's 
a obstinate pauper for you !" 

'^ It beats any thing I could have believed,^^ 
observed the matron emphatically. " But don't 
you think out-of-door relief a very bad thing 
any way, Mr. Bumble ? You're a gentleman 
of experience, and ought to know. Come.^^ 

" Mrs. Corney," said the beadle, smiling as 
men smile who are conscious of superior in- 
formation, " out-of-door relief, properly ma- 
naged, — properly managed, ma'am, — is the 
porochial safeguard. The great principle of 
out-of-door relief is to give the paupers ex- 



OLIVER TWIST. 55 

actly what they don't want^ and then they get 
tired of coming/^ 

'^ Dear me ! '^ exclaimed Mrs. Carney. " Well, 
that is a good one, too V^ 

"Yes. Betwixt you and me, ma'am/^ re- 
turned Mr. Bumble^ ^^ that's the great principle ; 
and that's the reason why, if you look at any 
cases that get into them owdacious newspapers, 
you'll always observe that sick families have 
been relieved with slices of cheese. That's the 
rule now, Mrs. Corney, all over the country. — 
But, however," said the beadle, stooping to un- 
pack his bundle, " these are official secrets 
ma^am ; not to be spoken of except, as I may 
say, among the porochial officers such as our- 
selves. This is the port wine, ma'am, that the 
board ordered for the infirmary, — real fresh 
genuine port wine, only out of the cask this 
afternoon, — clear as a bell, and no sediment." 

Having held the first bottle up to the light, 
and shaken it well to test its excellence, Mr. 
Bumble placed them both on the top of a chest 
of drawers, folded the handkerchief in which 



66 OLIVER TWIST. 

they had been wrapped^ put it carefully in his 
pockety and took up his hat as if to go. 

" You'll have a very cold walk, Mr. Bumble/^ 
said the matron. 

" It blows ma'am/^ replied Mr. Bumble, 
turning up his coat-collar, " enough to cut one's 
ears off.'^ 

The matron looked from the little kettle to 
the beadle who was moving towards the door, 
and as the beadle coughed, preparatory to bid- 
ding her good night, bashfully inquired whether 
— whether he wouldn't take a cup of tea ? 

Mr. Bumble instantaneously turned back his 
collar again, laid his hat and stick upon a chair, 
and drew another chair up to the table. As he 
slowly seated himself, he looked at the lady. 
She fixed her eyes upon the little teapot. Mr. 
Bumble coughed again, and slightly smiled. 

Mrs. Corney rose to get another cup and 
saucer from the closet. As she sat down, her 
eyes once again encountered those of the gallant 
beadle ; she coloured, and apphed herself to the 
task of making his tea. Again Mr. Bumble 



OLIVER TWIST. 57 

coughed, — louder this time than he had coughed 
yet. 

^^ Sweet ? Mr. Bumble/^ inquired the matron, 
taking up the sugar-basin. 

^^ Very sweet, indeed, ma^am,'^ rephed Mr. 
Bumble. He fixed his eyes on Mrs. Corney as 
he said this ; and, if ever a beadle looked ten- 
der, Mr. Bumble was that beadle at that mo- 
ment. 

The tea w^as made, and handed in silence. 
Mr. Bumble, having spread a handkerchief over 
his knees to prevent the crumbs from sullying 
the splendour of his shorts, began to eat and 
drink ; varying these amusements occasionally 
by fetching a deep sigh, which, however, had no 
injurious effect upon his appetite, but on the 
contrary rather seemed to facilitate his opera- 
tions in the tea and toast department. 

" You have a cat, ma^am, I see," said Mr. 
Bumble, glancing at one, who in the centre of 
her family was basking before the fire ; " and 
kittens too, I declare !" 

"I am so fond of them, Mr. Bumble, you 
can't think,'' replied the matron. They're so 



"58 OLIVER TWIST. 

happy^ so frolicsome^ and 50 cheerful^, that they 
are quite companions for me/^ 

"Very nice animals, ma'am/^ replied Mr. 
Bumble approvingly ; " so very domestic." 

"Oh, yes!" rejoined the matron with en- 
thusiasm ; " so fond of their home too, that it's 
quite a pleasure, I^m sure." 

" Mrs. Corney, ma'am," said Mr. Bumble 
slowly, and marking the time with his teaspoon, 
" I mean to say this, ma'am, that any cat or 
kitten that could live with you, ma'am, and not 
be fond of its home, must be a ass, ma'am." 

" Oh, Mr. Bumble !" remonstrated Mrs. 
Corney. 

" It's no use disguising facts, ma'am," said 
Mr. Bumble, slowly flourishing the teaspoon 
v/ith a kind of amorous dignity that made him 
doubly impressive ; *^ I would drown it myself 
with pleasure." 

" Then you're a cruel man," said the matron 
vivaciously, as she held out her hand for the 
beadle's cup, ^' and a very hard-hearted man 
besides." 

" Hard-hearted, ma'am!" said Mr. Bumble, 



OLIVER TWIST. 59 

^^ hard l'* Mr. Bumble resigned his cup with- 
out another word^ squeezed Mrs. Corney's Uttle 
finger as she took it^ and inflicting two open 
handed slaps upon his laced waistcoat gave a 
mighty sigh_, and hitched his chair a very little 
morsel farther from the fire. 

It was a round table ; and as Mrs. Corney 
and Mr. Bumble had been sitting opposite each 
other, with no great space between them, and 
fronting the fire, it will be seen that Mr. Bum- 
ble, in receding from the fire, and still keeping 
at the table, increased the distance between 
himself and Mrs. Corney; which proceeding 
some prudent readers will doubtless be disposed 
to admire, and to consider an act of great 
heroism on Mr. Bumble's part, he being in 
some sort tempted by time, place, and opportu- 
nity to give utterance to certain soft nothings, 
which, however well they may become the lips 
of the light and thoughtless, do seem im- 
measurably beneath the dignity of judges of the 
land, members of parliament, ministers of state, 
lord-mayors, and other great pubhc function- 



60 OLIVER TWIST. 

aries^ but more particularly beneath the stateli- 
ness and gravity of a beadle, who (as is well 
known) should be the sternest and most inflex- 
ible among them all. 

Whatever were Mr. Bumble's intentions^ 
however, — and no doubt they were of the best, 
— whatever they were, it unfortunately hap- 
pened, as has been twice before remarked, that 
the table was a round one ; consequently Mr. 
Bumble, moving his chair by little and little, 
soon began to diminish the distance between 
himseK and the matron, and, continuing to 
travel round the outer edge of the circle, 
brought his chair in time close to that in which 
the matron was seated. Indeed, the two chairs 
touched ; and when they did so, Mr. Bumble 
stopped. 

Now, if the matron had moved her chair to 
the right, she would have been scorched by the 
fire, and if to the left she must have fallen into 
Mr. Bumble's arms ; so (being a discreet 
matron and no doubt foreseeing these conse- 
quences at a glance) she remained where she 



OLIVER TWIST. 61' 

was, and handed Mr. Bumble another cup of 
tea. 

" Hard-hearted, Mrs. Corney?" said Mr. 
Bumble, stirring his tea, and looking up into 
the matron's face ; '' are ]/ou hard-hearted, Mrs. 
Corney V 

'^ Dear me !" exclaimed the matron, ^^ what a 
very curious question from a single man. What 
can you want to know for, Mr. Bumble ?" 

The beadle drank his tea to the last drop, 
finished a piece of toast, whisked the crumbs 
off his knees, wiped his lips, and deliberately 
kissed the matron. 

" Mr. Bumble," cried that discreet lady in a 
whisper, for the fright was so great that she had 
quite lost her voice, " Mr. Bumble, I shall 
scream !" Mr. Bumble made no reply, but in 
a slow and dignified manner put his arm round 
the matron's waist. 

As the lady had stated her intention of 
screaming, of course she would have screamed 
at this additional boldness, but that the exertion 
was rendered unnecessary by a hasty knocking 



62 OLIVER TWIST. 

at the door, which was no sooner heard than 
Mr. Bumble darted with much agihty to the 
wine-bottles, and began dusting them with 
great violence, while the matron sharply de- 
manded who was there. It is worthy of remark 
as a curious physical instance of the efficacy of 
a sudden surprise in counteracting the effects o^ 
extreme fear, that her voice had quite recovered 
all its official asperity. 

^^ If you please mistress,'* said a withered 
old female pauper, hideously ugly, putting her 
head in at the door, " Old Sally is a-going 
fast.'' 

" Well, what's that to me ?" angrily de- 
manded the matron. ^^ I can't keep her alive, 
can I V 

" No, no, mistress," replied the old wo- 
man, ^^ nobody can ; she's far beyond the 
reach of help. Vve seen a many people die, 
little babes and great strong men, and I know 
when death's a-coming well enough. But 
she's troubled in her mind; and when the 
fits are not on her, — and that's not often, for 



OLIVER TWIST. 63 

she is dying very hard^ — she says she has got 
something to tell which you must hear. She'll 
never die quiet till you come, mistress." 

At this intelligence the worthy Mrs. Corney 
muttered a variety of invectives against old 
women who couldn't even die without purposely 
annoying their betters ; and, muffling herself in 
a thick shawl which she hastily caught up, 
briefly requested Mr. Bumble to stop till she 
came back lest any thing particular should 
occur, and bidding the messenger walk fast, and 
not be all night hobbling up the stairs, followed 
her from the room with a very ill grace, scold- 
ing all the way. 

Mr. Bumble's conduct on being left to him- 
self, was rather inexplicable. He opened the 
closet, counted the tea-spoons, weighed the 
sugar-tongs, closely inspected a silver milk-pot 
to ascertain that it was of the genuine metal ; 
and, having satisfied his curiosity upon these 
points, put on his cocked- hat corner-wise, and 
danced with much gravity four distinct times 
round the table. Having gone through this 
very extraordinary performance, he took off the 



64 OLIVER TWIST. 

cocked-hat again, and, spreading himself before 
the fire with his back towards it, seemed to be 
mentally engaged in taking an exact inventory 
of the furniture. 



OLIVER TWIST. 65 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

TREATS OF A VERY POOR SUBJECT, BUT IS A SHORT ONE, 
AND MAY BE FOUND OF IMPORTANCE IN THIS HJSTORY. 

It was no unfit messenger of death that had 
disturbed the quiet of the matron's room. Her 
body was bent by age, her hmbs trembled with 
palsy, and her face, distorted into a mumbling 
leer, resembled more the grotesque shaping of 
some wild pencil than the work of Nature's 
hand. 

Alas ! how few of Nature''s faces there are to 
gladden us with their beauty ! Th^ cares, and 
sorrows, and hungerings of the world change 
them as they change hearts, and it is only when 
those passions sleep, and have lost their hold 
for ever, that the troubled clouds pass oif, and 
leave heaven's surface clear. It is a common 
thing for the countenances of tne dead, even in 

VOL. II, P 



€6 OLIVER TWIST. 

that fixed and rigid state^ to subside into the 
long-forgotten expression of sleeping infancy^ 
and settle into the very look of .early life ; so 
calm^ so peaceful do they grow again, that those 
who knew them in their happy childhood kneel 
by the coffin's side in awe, and see the angel 
even upon earth. 

The old crone tottered along the passages and 
up the stairs, muttering some indistinct answers 
to the chidings of her companion ; and, being 
at length compelled to'-'pause for breath, gave 
the light into her hand, and remained behind to 
follow as she might, while the more nimble 
superior made her way to the room where the 
sick woman lay. 

It was a bare garret-room with a dim light 
burning at the farther end. There was another 
old woman watching by the bed, and the parish 
apothecary's apprentice was standing by the 
fire, making a toothpick out of a quill. 

" Cold night, Mrs. Corney," said this young 
gentleman as the matron entered. 

" Very cold indeed, sir," replied the mistress 



OLIVER TWIST. 67 

in her most civil tones, and dropping a curtsey 
as she spoke. 

" You should get better coals out of your 
contractors," said the apothecary's deputy, 
breaking a lump on the top of the fire with the 
rusty poker ; " these are not at all the sort of 
thing for a cold night/' 

" They're the board's choosing, sir,'' re- 
turned the matron. " The least they could 
do would be to keep us pretty warm, for our 
places are hard enough." 

The conversation was here interrupted by a 
moan from the sick woman. 

" Oh [" said the young man, turning his face 
towards the bed, as if he had previously quite 
forgotten the patient, " it's all U. P. there, Mrs. 
Corney." 

" It is, is it, sir ?" asked the matron. 

" If she lasts a couple of hours, I shall be 
surprised," said the apothecary's apprentice, 
intent upon the toothpick's point. " It's a 
break-up of the system altogether. Is she 
dozing, old lady ?" 

F 2 



68 OLIVER TWIST. 

The attendant stooped over the bed to ascer- 
tain^ and nodded in the affirmative. 

" Then perhaps she'll go off in that way, if 
you don't make a row/' said the young man. 
" Put the light on the floor, — she won't see it 
there.'" 

The attendant did as she was bidden, shaking 
her head meanwhile to intimate that the woman 
would not die so easily ; and, having done so, 
resumed her seat by the side of the other nurse, 
who had by this time returned. The mistress, 
with an expression of impatience, wrapped 
herself in her shawl and sat at the foot of the 
bed. 

The apothecary's apprentice, having com- 
pleted the manufacture of the toothpick, planted 
himself in front of the fire and made good use 
of it for ten minutes or so, when, apparently 
growing rather dull he wished Mrs. Corney joy 
of her job, and took himself off on tiptoe. 

When they had sat in silence for some time 
the two old women rose from the bed, and, 
crouching over the fire held out their withered 
hands to catch the heat. The flame threw a 



OLIVER TWIST. 69 

ghastly light on their shrivelled faces^ and made 
their ughness appear perfectly terrible, as in 
this position they began to converse in a low 
voice. 

^^ Did she say any more, Anny dear, while I 
was gone?" inquired the messenger. 

" Not a word," replied the other. ^^ She 
plucked and tore at her arms for a little time ; 
but I held her hands, and she soon dropped off. 
She hasn't much strength in her, so I easily 
kept her quiet. I ain't so weak for an old 
woman, although I am on parish allowance ; — 
no, no." 

^^ Did she drink the hot wine the doctor said 
she was to have ?" demanded the first. 

^^ I tried to get it down,'' rejoined the other ; 
^•' biit her teeth were tight set, and she clenched 
the mug so hard that it was as much as I could 
do to get it back again. So / drank it, and it 
did me good." 

Looking cautiously round to ascertain that 
they were not overheard, the two hags cowered 
nearer to the fire, and chuckled heartily. 



70 OLIVER TWIST. 

" I mind the time," said the first speaker, 
" when she would have done the same, and 
made rare fun of it afterwards." 

" Ay, that she would," rejoined the other ; 
^^ she had a merry heart. A many many beau- 
tiful corpses she laid out, as nice and neat as 
wax-work. My old eyes have seen them — ay, 
and these old hands touched them too ; for I 
have helped her scores of times/^ 

Stretching forth her trembling fingers as 
she spoke, the old creature shook them ex- 
ultingly before her face and fumbling in her 
pocket brought out an old time-discoloured tin 
snufF-box, from which she shook a few grains 
into the outstretched palm of her companion, 
and a few more into her own. While they were 
thus employed, the matron, who had been im- 
patiently watching until the dying woman 
should awaken from her stupor, joined them by 
the fire, and sharply asked how long she was to 
wait. 

"Not long, mistress,^' replied the second 
woman, looking up into her face. '' We have 



OLIVER TWIST. 71 

none of us long to wait for Death. Patience^ 
patience ! he^ll be here soon enough for us 
alL^^ 

'^ Hold your tongue^ you doting idiot \'' said 
the matron, sternly. '' You, Martha, tell me ; 
has she been in this way before ?" 

^^ Often/^ answered the first woman. 

^^But will never be again," added the second 
one ; ^^ that is, she^ll never wake again but once 
-- and mind, mistress, that won^t be for long." 

^^Long or short," said the matron, snap- 
pishly, " she won't find me here when she does, 
and take care, both of you, how you worry me 
again for nothing. It's no part of my duty to 
see all the old women in the house die, and I 
won't — that's more. Mind that, you impudent 
old harridans. If you make a fool of me again, 
I'll soon cure you, I warrant you !" 

She was bouncing away, when a cry from the 
two women, who had turned towards the bed, 
caused her to look round. The sick woman 
had raised herself upright, and was stretching 
her arms towards them. 

" Who's that }" she cried, in a hollow voice. 



72 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ Hush, hush 1" said one of the women, 
stooping over her — ^^ he down, he down 1^^ 

" ril never he down again ahve !" said the 
woman, strugghng. " I luill tell her ! Come 
here — nearer. Let me whisper in your ear.^^ 

She clutched the matron by the arm, and 
forcing her into a chair by the bedside was about 
to speak, when, looking round, she caught sight 
of the two old women bending forward in the 
attitude of eager listeners. 

^^Turn them away,^^ said the woman, drowsily ; 
^^ make haste — make haste ?^ 

The two old crones, chiming in together, 
began pouring out many piteous lamentations 
that the poor dear was too far gone to know her 
best friends, and uttering sundry protestations 
that they would never leave her, when the 
superior pushed them from the room, closed 
the door, and returned to the bedside. On 
being excluded, the old ladies changed their 
tone, and cried through the keyhole that old 
Sally was drunk ; which, indeed, was not un- 
likely, since, in addition to a moderate dose of 
opium prescribed by the apothecary, she was 



OLIVER TWIST. 73 

labouring under the effects of a final taste of gin 
and water which had been privily administered 
in the openness of their hearts by the worthy 
old ladies themselves. 

" Now listen to me/^ said the dying woman, 
aloud, as if making a great effort to revive one 
latent spark of energy. '' In this very room — 
in this very bed — I once nursed a pretty young 
creetur', that was brought into the house with 
her feet cut and bruised with walking, and all 
soiled with dust and blood. She gave birth to 
a boy, and died. Let me think — what was the 
year again ?" 

" Never mind the year," said the impatient 
auditor ; ^^ what about her V 

'^ Ay,'^ murmured the sick woman, relapsing 
into her former drowsy state, " what about her ? 
— what about — I know \" she cried, jumping 
fiercely up : her face flushed, and her eyes start- 
ing from her head — " I robbed her, so I did ! 
She wasn't cold — I tell you she wasn't cold 
when I stole it !" 

^^ Stole what, for God's sake ?" cried the 



74 OLIVER TWIST. 

matron^ with a gesture as if she would call for 
help. 

" It /^' replied the woman^ laying her hand 
over the other's mouth — "the only thing she 
had. She wanted clothes to keep her warm, 
and food to eat ; but she had kept it safe, and 
had it in her bosom. It was gold, I tell you ! 
— rich gold, that might have saved her life P' 

^' Gold !'' echoed the matron, bending eagerly 
over the woman as she fell back. " Go on, go 
on — yes — what of it ? Who was the mother ? 
— when was it?'* 

" She charged me to keep it safe,'' replied the 
woman, with a groan, ^^ and trusted me as the 
only woman about her, I stole it in my heart 
when she first showed it me hanging round her 
neck ; and the child's death, perhaps, is on me 
besides ! They would have treated him better 
if they had known it all !" 

^' Known what ?" asked the other. ^^ Speak !'* 

^' The boy grew so like his mother," said the 
woman, rambling on and not heeding the ques- 
tion, ^^ that I could never forget it when I saw 



OLIVER TWIST. 75 

his face. Poor girl ! poor 'girl ! — she was so 
young, too ! — such a gentle lamb ! — Wait; 
there's more to tell. I have not told you all, 
have I V 

^' No, no/^ repUed the matron, inclining her 
head to catch the words as they came more 
faintly from the dying woman. — " Be quick, or 
it may be too late I'' 

"The mother,^^ said the woman, making a 
more violent effort than before — " the mother, 
when the pains of death first came upon her, whis- 
pered in my ear that if her baby was born alive, 
and thrived, the day might come when it would 
not feel so much disgraced to hear its poor young 
mother named. ^ And oh, my God ? she said, 
folding her thin hands together, ^ whether it be 
boy or girl, raise up some friends for it in this 
troubled world, and take pity upon a lonely, 
desolate child, abandoned to its mercy V '' 

" The boy's name ?'' demanded the matron. 

"They called him Oliver,'^ replied the 
woman, feebly. " The gold I stole was — " 

"Yes, yes — what?^^ cried the other. 

She was bending eagerly over the woman to 



76 OLIVER TWIST. 

hear her reply^ but drew back instinctively as 
she once again rose slowly and stiffly into a 
sitting posture, and, clutching the coverlet with 
both hands, muttered some indistinct sounds in 
her throat, and fell lifeless on the bed. 

^ »K *!» 'K 

" Stone dead I'' said one of the old women, 
hurrying in as soon as the door was opened, 

"And nothing to tell, after all," rejoined the 
matron, walking carelessly away. 

The two crones were to all appearance too 
busily occupied in the preparations for their 
dreadful duties to make any reply, and were left 
alone hovering about the body. 



OLIVER TWIST. 77 



CHAPTER XXV. 

WHEIIEIN THIS HISTORY REVERTS TO MR. FAGIN AND 
COMPANY. 

While these things were passing in the 
country workhouse, Mr. Fagin sat in the old 
den — the same from which Ohver had been re- 
moved by the girl — brooding over a dull smoky 
fire. He held a pair of bellows upon his knee, 
with which he had apparently been endeavour- 
ing to rouse it into more cheerful action ; but 
he had fallen into deep thought, and with his 
arms folded upon them, and his chin resting on 
his thumbs, fixed his eyes abstractedly on the 
rusty bars. 

At a table behind him sat the Artful Dodger, 
Master Charles Bates, and Mr. Chitling, all 
intent upon a game of whist ; the Artful taking 
dummy against Master Bates and Mr. Chitling. 
The countenance of the first-named gentleman. 



78 OLIVER TWIST. 

peculiarly intelligent at all times^ acquired great 
additional interest from his close observance of 
the game and his attentive perusal of Mr. Chit- 
ling's hand^ upon which, from time to time, as 
occasion served, he bestowed a variety of ear- 
nest glances, wisely regulating his own play by 
the result of his observations upon his neigh- 
bour's cards. It being a cold night, the Dodger 
wore his hat, as, indeed, was often his custom 
within doors. He also sustained a clay pipe 
between his teeth, which he only removed for 
a brief space when he deemed it necessary to 
apply for refreshment to a quart-j)ot upon the 
table, which stood ready filled with gin and 
water for the accommodation of the company. 

Master Bates was also attentive to the play ; 
but being of a more excitable nature than his 
accomplished friend, it was observable that he 
more frequently applied himself to the gin and 
water, and moreover indulged in many jests 
and irrelevant remarks all highly unbecoming a 
scientific rubber. Indeed, the Artful, presuming 
upon their close attachment, more than once 
took occasion to reason gravely with his com- 



OLIVER TWIST. 79 

panion upon these improprieties : all of which 
remonstrances Master Bates took in extremely 
good part, merely requesting his friend to be 
" blowed/^ or to insert his head in a sack, or re- 
plying with some other neatly-turned witticism 
of a similar kind, the happy application of which 
excited considerable admiration in the mind of 
Mr. Chitling. It was remarkable that the latter 
gentleman and his partner invariably lost, and 
that the circumstance, so far from angering 
Master Bates, appeared to afford him the 
highest amusement, inasmuch as he laughed 
most uproariously at the end of every deal and 
protested that he had never seen such a jolly 
game in all his born days. 

^^ That's two doubles and the rub," said Mr. 
Chitling, with a very long face, as he drew haif- 
a-crown from his waistcoat-pocket. " I never 
see such a feller as you. Jack ; you win every 
thing. Even when we've good cards, Charley 
and I can't make nothing of 'em." 

Either the matter or manner of this remark, 
which was made very ruefully, delighted Charley 
Bates so much, that his consequent shout of 



80 OLIVER TWIST. 

laughter roused the Jew from his reverie^ and 
induced him to inquire what was the matter. 

^^ Matter, Fagini^^ cried Charley. '^I wish 
you had watched the play. Tommy Chitling 
hasn^t M'On a point, and I wxnt partners with 
him against the Artful and dum.^^ 

^^ Ay, ay ?" said the Jew, with a grin, which 
sufficiently demonstrated that he was at no loss 
to understand the reason, " Try 'em again, 
Tom ; try ^em again/^ 

'^ No more of it for me, thankee, Fagin,^' re- 
phed Mr. Chithng ; " Fve had enough. That 
^ere Dodger has such a run of luck that there's 
no standing again^ him.'^ 

'^ Ha ! ha ! my dear," replied the Jew, *^ you 
must get up very early in the morning to win 
against the Dodger.'' 

" Morning !" said Charley Bates ; " you must 
put your boots on over night, and have a tele- 
scope at each eye and a opera-glass between 
your shoulders, if you want to come over him.'^ 

Mr. Dawkins received these handsome com- 
pliments with much philosophy, and offered to 
cut any gentleman in company for the first 



OLIVER TWIST. 81 

picture-card^ at a shilling a time. Nobody ac- 
cepting the challenge, and his pipe being by 
this time smoked out, he proceeded to amuse 
himself by sketching a ground-plan of Newgate 
on the table with the piece of chalk which had 
served him in lieu of counters ; whistling mean- 
time with peculiar shrillness. 

^^ How precious dull you are, Tommy V' said 
the Dodger, stopping short when there had been 
a long silence, and addressing Mr. Chitling. 
" What do you think he's thinking of, Fagin ?^^ 

" How should I know, my dear ?'^ replied the 
Jew, looking round as he plied the bellows. 
^^ About his losses, maybe — or the little retire- 
ment in the country that he's just left, eh ? — 
Ha ! ha i Is that it, my dear ?'' 

^^ Not a bit of it,'^ replied the Dodger, stop- 
ping the subject of discourse as Mr. Chitling 
was about to reply. " What do t/ou say, 
Charley ?" 

" I should say,^' replied Master Bateg with a 
grin, " that he was uncommon sweet upon 
Betsy. See how he's a-blushing ! Oh, my eye ! 
here's a merry-go-rounder ! — Tommy Chit- 

VOL. II. G 



82 OLIVER TWIST. 

ling's in love ! — Oh^ Fagin^ Fagin ! what a 
spree !" 

Thoroughly overpowered with the notion of 
Mr. Chitling being the victim of the tender 
passion. Master Bates threw himself back in 
his chair with such violence that he lost his 
balance, and pitched over upon the floor, where 
(the accident abating nothing of his merriment) 
he lay at full length till his laugh was over, 
when he resumed his former position and began 
another. 

^* Never mind him, my dear,^^ said the Jew, 
winking at Mr. Dawkins, and giving Master 
Bates a reproving tap with the nozzle of the 
bellows. '^ Betsy^s a fine girl. Stick up to 
her, Tom : stick up to her.^^ 

^^ What I mean to say, Fagin,^^ replied Mr. 
Chitling, very red in the face, '^ is, that that is'nt 
any thing to any body here." 

" No more it is,'^ replied the Jew ; ^' Charley 
will talk. Don't mind him, my dear; don't 
mind him. Betsy's a fine girl. Do as she 
bids you, Tom, and you'll make your fortune." 

" So I do do as she bids me," replied Mr. 



OLIVER TWIST. 83 

Chitling ; ^^ I shouldn't have been milled if it 
hadn't been for her advice. But it turned out 
a good job for you, didn't it, Fagin ? And 
what's six weeks of it? It must come some 
time or another, — and why not in the winter 
time when you don't want to go out a-walking 
so much ; eh, Fagin ?" 

" Ah, to be sure, my dear," replied the 
Jew." 

^^ You wouldn't mind it again, Tom, would 
you," asked the Dodger, winking upon Charley 
and the Jew, ^^ if Bet was all right V^ 

" I mean to say that I shouldn't," replied 
Tom angrily ; " there, now ! Ah ! Who'll say 
as much as that, I should like to know ; eh, 
Fa^in r" 

" Nobody, my dear," replied the Jew ; 
'' not a soul, Tom. I don't know one of 'em 
that would do it besides you ; not one of 'em 
my dear." 

" I might have got clear off if I'd split upon 
her ; mighn't I, Fagin ?" angrily pursued the 
poor half-witted dupe. ^' A word from me would 
have done it ; wouldn't it, Fagin ?'^ 
G 2 



84 OLIVER TWIST. 

" To be sure it would, my dear,'^ replied the 
Jew. 

" But I didn't blab it, did I, Fagin r de- 
manded Tom, pouring question upon question 
with great volubility. 

" No, no, to be sure,'' replied the Jew; "you 
were too stout-hearted for that, — a deal too 
stout my dear." 

" Perhaps I was," rejoined Tom, looking 
round ; ^^ and if I was, what's to laugh at in 
that ; eh, Fagin ?" 

The Jew, perceiving that Mr. Chitling was 
considerably roused, hastened to assure him 
that nobody was laughing, and, to prove the 
gravity of the company, appealed to Master 
Bates, the principal offender ; but unfortunately 
Charley, in opening his mouth to reply that he 
was never more serious in his life, was unable 
to prevent the escape of such a violent roar 
that the abused Mr. Chitling without any pre- 
liminary ceremonies rushed across the room, 
and aimed a blow at the offender, who, being 
skilful in evading pursuit, ducked to avoid it, 
and chose his time so well that it lighted on 



OLIVER TWIST. 85 

the chest of the merry old gentleman^ and 
caused him to stagger to the wall^ where he 
stood panting for breath while Mr. Chitling 
looked on in intense dismay. 

" Hark \" cried the Dodger at this moment, 
" I heard the tinkler." Catching up the light, 
he crept softly up stairs. 

The bell rang again with some impatience 
while the party were in darkness. After a 
short pause, the Dodger reappeared, and whis- 
pered Fagin mysteriously. 

"What P cried the Jew, " alone ?" 

The Dodger nodded in the affirmative, and, 
shading the flame of the candle with his hand, 
gave Charley Bates a private intimation in 
dumb show that he had better not be funny 
just then. Having performed this friendly 
office, he fixed his eyes on the Jew's face and 
awaited his directions. 

The old man bit his yellow fingers, and me- 
ditated for some seconds; his face working with 
agitation the while, as if he dreaded something, 
and feared to know the worst. At length he 
raised his head. 



B6 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ Where is he ?" he asked. 

^^ The Dodger pointed to the floor above, 
and made a gesture as if to leave the room. 

^^ Yes/^ said the Jew, answering the mute 
inquiry ; " bring him down. Hush ! — Quiet, 
Charley ! — gently, Tom ! Scarce, scarce V 

This brief direction to Charley Bates and his 
recent antagonist to retire, was softly and im- 
mediately obeyed. There was no sound of 
their whereabout when the Dodger descended 
the stairs bearing the light in his hand, and 
followed by a man in a coarse smock-frock, 
who, after casting a hurried glance round the 
room, pulled off a large wrapper which had con- 
cealed the lower portion of his face, and dis- 
closed — all haggard, unwashed, and unshaven, 
the features of flash Toby Crackit. 

'^ How are you, Fagey ?" said the worthy, 
nodding to the Jew. " Pop that shawl away in 
my castor. Dodger, so that I may know where 
to find it when I cut ; that's the time of day ! 
You^U be a fine young cracksman afore the old 
file now.'^ 

With these words he pulled up the smock- 



OLIVER TWIST. 87 

frock, and, winding it round his middle, drew a 
chair to the fire, and placed his feet upon the 
hob. 

'^ See tliere, Fagey,^^ he said, pointing dis- 
consolately to his top-boots ; " not a drop of 
Day and Martin since you know when ; not a 

bubble of blacking, by ! but don^t look at 

me in that way, man. All in good time ; I 
can^t talk about business till I've eat and 
drank, so produce the sustainance, and let's 
have a quiet fill-out for the first time these three 
days !" 

The Jew motioned to the Dodger to place 
what eatables there were upon the table : and, 
seating himself opposite the housebreaker, 
waited his leisure. 

To judge from appearances, Toby was by no 
means in a hurry to open the conversation. 
At first the Jew contented himself with pa- 
tiently watching his countenance, as if to gain 
from its expression some clue to the intelli- 
gence he brought ; but in vain. He looked 
tired and worn, but there was the same com- 
placent repose upon his features that they 



88 OLIVER TWIST. 

always wore^ and through dirt, and beard, and 
whisker, there still shone unimpaired the self- 
satisfied smirk of flash Toby Crackit. Then 
the Jew in an agony of impatience watched 
every morsel he put into his mouth, pacing up 
and down the room meanwhile in irrepressible 
excitement. It was all of no use. Toby con- 
tinued to eat with the utmost outward indiffer- 
ence until he could eat no more; and then 
ordering the Dodger out, closed the door, mixed 
a glass of spirits and water, and composed him- 
self for talking. 

^^ First and foremost, Fagey,^' said Toby. 

^^ Yes, yes l^' interposed the Jew, drawing 
up his chair. 

Mr. Crackit stopped to take a draught of spi- 
rits and water, and to declare that the gin was 
excellent ; and then placing his feet against the 
low mantelpiece, so as to bring his boots to 
about the level of his eye quietly resumed. 

" First and forem.ost, Fagey,^^ said the house- 
breaker, « how's Bill ?" 

*^What!'' screamed the Jew, starting from 
his seat. 



OLIVER TWIST. 89 

^^ Why^ you don't mean to say -" began 

Toby, turning pale. 

" Mean l'^ cried the Jew, stamping furiously 
on the ground. " Where are they ? — Sikes and 
the boy — where are they ? — where have they 
been ? — where are they hiding ? — why have they 
not been here ?^' 

^* The crack failed/^ said Toby, faintly. 

^^ I know it/^ replied the Jew, tearing a news- 
paper from his pocket, and pointing to it. 
'^ What more ?'" 

^^ They fired and hit the boy. We cut over 
the fields at the back with him between us — 
straight as the crow flies — through hedge and 
ditch. They gave chase. D — me! the whole 
country was awake, and the dogs upon us.^^ 

" The boy \" gasped the Jew. 

" Bill had him on his back, and scudded like 
the wind. We stopped to take him again 
between us ; his head hung down, and he was 
cold. They were close upon our heels : every 
man for himself, and each from the gallows. 
We parted company, and left the youngster 



90 OLIVER TWIST. 

lying in a ditch. Alive or dead, that's all I 
know of him/^ 

The Jew stopped to hear no more; but 
tittering a loud yell_, and twining his hands in 
his hair, rushed from the room and from the 
house. 



OLIVER TWIST. 91 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

IN WHICH A MYSTERIOUS CHARACTER APPEARS UPON THE 
SCENE, AND MANY THINGS INSEPARABLE FROM THIS 
HISTORY ARE DONE AND PERFORMED. 

The old man had gained the street corner 
before he began to recover the effect of Toby 
Crackit's intelligence. He had relaxed nothing 
of his unusual speedy but was still pressing on- 
ward in the same wild and disordered manner^ 
when the sudden dashing past of a carriage, and 
a boisterous cry from the foot-passengers who 
saw his danger_, drove him back upon the pave- 
ment. Avoiding as much as possible all the 
main streets, and skulking only through the 
byways and alleys, he at length emerged on 
Snow Hill. Here he walked even faster than 
before; nor did he linger until he had again 
tiirned into a court, when, as if conscious that 



92 OLIVER TWIST. 

he was now in his proper element^ he fell into 
his usual shuffling pace and seemed to breathe 
more freely. 

Near to the spot on which Snow Hill and 
Holborn Hill meet^ there opens^ upon the right 
hand as you come out of the city^ a narrow and 
dismal alley leading to Saifron Hill. In its 
filthy shops are exposed for sale huge bunches 
of second-hand silk handkerchiefs of all sizes 
and patterns — for here reside the traders who 
purchase them from pickpockets. Hundreds of 
these handkerchiefs hang dangling from pegs 
outside the windows, or flaunting from the 
door-posts; and the shelves within are piled 
with them. Confined as the limits of Field 
Lane are, it has its barber, its cofFee-shop, its 
beer-shop, and its fried-fish warehouse. It is a 
commercial colony of itself, the emporium of 
petty larceny, visited at early morning and set- 
ting-in of dusk by silent merchants, who traffic 
in dark back-parlours, and go as strangely as 
they come. Here the clothesman, the shoe- 
vamper, and the rag-merchant display their 
goods as sign-boards to the petty thief; and 



OLIVER TWIST. 93 

stores of old iron and bones^ and heaps of mil- 
dewy fragments of woollen-stuff and linen, rust 
and rot in the grimy cellars. 

It was into this place that the Jew turned. 
He was well-known to the sallow denizens of 
the lane, for such of them as were on the look- 
out to buy or sell, nodded familiarly as he passed 
along. He replied to their salutations in the 
same way, but bestowed no closer recognition 
until he reached the further end of the alley, 
when he stopped to address a salesman of small 
stature, who had squeezed as much of his per- 
son into a child^s chair as the chair would hold, 
and was smoking a pipe at his warehouse- 
door. 

" Why, the sight of you, Mr. Fagin, would 
cure the hoptalmy V' said this respectable trader, 
in acknowledgment of the Jew^s inquiry after 
his health. 

"The neighbourhood was a little too hot, 
Lively,^^ said Fagin, elevating his eyebrows, 
and crossing his hands upon his shoulders. 

" Well ! I've heerd that complaint of it once 



94. OLIVER TWIST. 

or twice before/' replied the trader; "but it 
soon cools down again ; don't you find it so ?" 

Fagin nodded in the affirmative^ and, pointing 
in the direction of Saffron Hill, inquired whe- 
ther any one was up yonder to-night. 

"At the Cripples V inquired the man. 

The Jew nodded. 

"Let me see/' pursued the merchant, re- 
flecting. '' Yes ; there's some half-dozen of 
^em gone in that I knows. I don't think your 
friend's there." 

"Sikes is not, I suppose?" inquired the Jew, 
with a disappointed countenance. 

'- Non istiventus, as the lawyers say/' replied 
the little man, shaking his head, and looking 
amazingly sly. ^^ Have you got any thing in 
my line to-night ?" 

"Nothing to-night," said the Jew, turning 
away. 

" Are you going up to the Cripples, Fagin ?" 
cried the little man, calling after him. " Stop ! 
I don't mind if I have a drop there with 
you!" 



OLIVER TWIST. 95 

But as the Jew, looking back, waved his hand 
to intimate that he preferred being alone ; and, 
moreover, as the little man could not ver}^ easily 
disengage himself from the chair, the sign of the 
Cripples was, for a time, bereft of the advan- 
tage of Mr. Lively's presence. By the time he 
had got upon his legs the Jew had disappeared ; 
so Mr. Lively, after ineffectually standing on 
tiptoe, in the hope of catching sight of him, 
again forced himself into the little chair, and, 
exchanging a shake of the head with a lady in 
the opposite shop, in which doubt and mistrust 
were plainly mingled, resumed his pipe with a 
grave demeanour. 

The Three Cripples, or rather the Cripples, 
which was the sign by which the establishment 
was familiarly known to its patrons, was the 
same public-house in which Mr. Sikes and his 
dog have already figured. Merely making a 
sign to a man in the bar, Fagin walked straight 
up stairs, and opening the door of a room, and 
softly insinuating himself into the chamber, 
looked anxiously about, shading his eyes with 



96 OLIVER TWIST. 

his hand as if in search of some particular 
person. 

The room was illuminated by two gas-lights, 
the glare of which was prevented by the barred 
shutters and closely-drawn curtains of faded red, 
from being visible outside. The ceiling was 
blackened to prevent its colour being injured 
by the flaring of the lamps ; and the place was 
so full of dense tobacco-smoke, that at first it 
was scarcely possible to discern any thing fur- 
ther. By degrees, however, as some of it 
cleared away through the open door, an assem- 
blage of heads, as confused as the noises that 
greeted the ear, might be made out ; and, as the 
eye grew more accustomed to the scene, the 
spectator gradually became aware of the pre- 
sence of a numerous company, male and female, 
crowded round a long table, at the upper end of 
which sat a chairman with a hammer of office 
in his hand, while a professional gentleman, 
with a bluish nose and his face tied up for the 
benefit of a toothache presided at a jingling 
piano in a remote corner. 



OLIVER TWIST. 97 

As Fagin stepped softly in^ the professional 
gentleman^ running over the keys by way of 
prelude^ occasioned a general cry of order for a 
song ; which having subsided, a young lady 
proceeded to entertain the company with a 
ballad in four verses, between each of which 
the accompanyist played the melody all through 
as loud as he could. When this was over, the 
chairman gave a sentiment ; after which, the 
professional gentlemen on the chairman's right 
and left volunteered a duet, and sang it with 
great applause. 

It was curious to observe some faces whic^ 
stood out prominently from among the group. 
There was the chairman himself, the landlord of 
the house : a coarse, rough, heavy-built fellow, 
who, while the songs were proceeding, rolled 
his eyes hither and thither, and seeming to give 
himself up to joviality had an eye for every 
thing that was done, and an ear for every thing 
that was said — and sharp ones, too. Near him 
were the singers, receiving with professional in- 
diiference the compliments of the company, 
and applying themselves in turn to a dozen 

VOL. II. H 



98 OLIVER TWIST. 

proffered glasses of spirits and water tendered 
by their more boisterous admirers, whose coun- 
tenances, expressive of almost every vice in 
almost every grade, irresistibly attracted the 
attention by their very repulsiveness. Cun- 
ning, ferocity, and drunkenness in all its stages 
were there in their strongest aspects; and 
women — some with the last lingering tinge of 
their early freshness almost fading as you 
looked, and others with every mark and stamp 
of their sex utterly beaten out, and presenting 
but one loathsome blank of profligacy and 
crime — some mere girls, others but young 
women, and none past the prime of life — 
formed the darkest and saddest portion of this 
dreary picture. 

Fagin, troubled by no grave emotions, looked 
eagerly from face to face while these proceed- 
ings were in progress, but apparently without 
meeting that of which he was in search. Suc- 
ceeding at length in catching the eye of the man 
who occupied the chair, he beckoned to him 
slightly, and left the room as quietly as he had 
entered it. 



OLIVER TWIST. 99 

" What can I do for you^ Mr. Fagin V* in- 
quired the man^ as he followed him out to the 
landing. "Won't you join us? They'll be 
delighted, every one of 'em." 

The Jew shook his head impatiently, and 
said in a whisper, "Is he here ?" 

^^ No/' replied the man. 

" And no news of Barney ?" inquired Fagin. 

'' None/' replied the landlord of the Cripples, 
for it was he. " He won't stir till it's all safe. 
Depend on it that they're on the scent down 
there, and that if he moved he'd blow upon the 
thing at once. He's all right enough, Barney 
is, else I should have heard of him. I'll pound 
it that Barney's managing properly. Let him 
alone for that." 

" Will he be here to-night ?" asked the Jew, 
laying the same emphasis on the pronoun as 
before. 

" Monks, do you mean ?" inquired the land- 
lord, hesitating. 

" Hush !" said the Jew. " Yes." 

^^ Certain/' replied the man, drawing a gold 
watch from his fob; ^^I expected him here 



100 OLIVEll TWIST. 

before now. If you^ll wait ten minutes^ he^U 
be— ^^ 

^^ No, no/' said the Jew hastily, as though, 
however desirous he might be to see the person 
in question, he was nevertheless relieved by his 
absence. ^^ Tell him I came here to see him, 
and that he must come to me to-night ; no, say 
to-morrow. As he is not here, to-morrow will 
be time enough.^' 

'^ Good i" said the man. ^^ Nothing more }'' 

" Not a word now,'' said the Jew, descending 
the stairs. 

" I say," said the other, looking over the rails, 
and speaking in a hoarse whisper; "what a 
time this would be for a sell ! Fve got Phil 
Barker here, so drunk that a boy might take 
him." 

"Aha! But it's not Phil Barker's time," 
said the Jew, looking up. " Phil has something 
more to do before we can afford to part with 
him ; so go back to the company, my dear, and 
tell them to lead merry lives — wJiile they last. 
Ha! ha! ha!" 

The landlord reciprocated the old man's 



OLIVER TWIST. 101 

laugh, and returned to his guests. The Jew 
was no sooner alone than his countenance re- 
sumed its former expression of anxiety and 
thought. After a brief reflection, he called a 
hack-cabriolet, and bade the man drive towards 
Bethnal Green. He dismissed him within some 
quarter of a mile of Mr. Sikes's residence, and 
performed the short remainder of the distance 
on foot. 

'^ Now,^^ muttered the Jew, as he knocked at 
the door, ^^ if there is any deep play here, I shall 
have it out of you, my girl, cunning as you are.'* 

She was in her room, the woman said; so 
Fagin crept softly up stairs, and entered it 
without any previous ceremony. The girl was 
alone, lying with her head upon the table, and 
her hair straggling over it. 

^^ She has been drinking,'* thought the Jew 
coolly, ^^ or perhaps she is only miserable.'* 

The old man turned to close the door as he 
made this reflection, and the noise thus occa- 
sioned roused the girl. She eyed his crafty 
face narrowly, as she inquired whether there was 
any news, and listened to his recital of Toby 



102 OLIVER TWIST. 

Crackit's story. When it was concluded, she 
sunk into her former attitude, but spoke not a 
word. She pushed the candle impatiently 
away, and once or twice as she feverishly 
changed her position, shuffled her feet upon the 
ground ; but this was all. 

During this silence, the Jew looked restlessly 
about the room as if to assure himself that 
there were no appearances of Sikes having 
covertly returned. Apparently satisfied with 
his inspection, he coughed twice or thrice, and 
made as many eff'orts to open a conversation ; 
but the girl heeded him no more than if he had 
been made of stone. At length he made an- 
other attempt, and, rubbing his hands together, 
said, in his most conciliatory tone, 

^^ And where should you think Bill was now, 
my dear — eh?'^ 

The girl moaned out some scarcely intelli- 
gible reply that she could not tell, and seemed, 
from the half-smothered noise that escaped her, 
to be crying. 

*^ And the boy, too,^^ said the Jew, straining 
his eyes to catch a glimpse of her face. ^^ Poor 



OLIVER TWIST. 103 

leetle child ! — left in a ditch^ Nance ; only 
think ?' 

" The child/^ said the girl, suddenly looking 
up, ^^is better where he is, than among us: 
and, if no harm comes to Bill from it, I hope he 
hes dead in the ditch, and that his young bones 
may rot there.'^ 

" What !" cried the Jew, in amazement. 

'^ Ay, I do," returned the girl, meeting his 
gaze. ^^ I shall be glad to have him away from 
my eyes, and to know that the worst is over. 
I can^t bear to have him about me. The sight 
of him turns me against myself and all of 
you." 

" Pooh !" said the Jew, scornfully. ^^ You're 
drunk, girl." 

" Am I r" cried the girl bitterly. ^^ It's no 
fault of yours if I am not ! you'd never have 
me any thing else if you had your will, ex- 
cept now ; — the humour doesn't suit you, doesn't 
it?" 

" No 1" rejoined the Jew furiously. ^^ It 
does not." 



104 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Change it, then !" responded the girl with a 
laugh. 

^^ Change it !" exclaimed the Jew, exaspe- 
rated beyond all bounds by his companion's 
unexpected obstinacy and the vexation of the 
night, '^ I will change it ! Listen to me, you 
drab ! listen to me, who with six words can 
strangle Sikes as surely as if I had his bull's 
throat between my fingers now. If lie comes 
back, and leaves that boy behind him, — if he 
gets off free, and, dead or alive, fails to restore 
him to me, murder him yourself if you would 
have him escape Jack Ketch, and do it the mo- 
ment he sets foot in this room, or, mind me, it 
will be too late V 

'^ What is all this V cried the girl involun- 
tarily. 

^^ What is it !'' pursued Fagin, mad with rage. 
*^ This : When the boy's worth hundreds of 
pounds to me, am I to lose what chance threw 
me in the way of getting safely, through the 
whims of a drunken gang that I could whistle 
away the lives of, — and me bound, too, to a 



OLIVER TWIST. 105 

l)orn devil tliat only wants the will, and has got 
the power to, to ^^ 

Panting for breath, the old man stammered 
for a word, and in that one instant, checked the 
torrent of his wrath, and changed his whole 
demeanour. A moment before, his clenched 
hands grasped the air, his eyes had dilated, and 
his face grown livid with passion; but now he 
shrunk into a chair, and, cowering together, 
trembled with the apprehension of having him- 
self disclosed some hidden villany. After a 
short silence, he ventured to look round at his 
companion, and appeared somewhat reassured 
on beholding her in the same listless attitude 
from which he had first roused her. 

^' Nancy, dear !" croaked the Jew in his usual 
voice. '^ Did you mind me, dear ?^^ 

" Don't worry me now, Fagin 1'' replied the 
girl, raising her head languidly. '^ If Bill has 
not done it this time, he will another. He has 
done many a good job for you, and will do 
many more when he can ; and when he can't, 
he won't, so no more about that." 

^^ Regarding this boy, my dear ?" said the 



106 OLIVER TWIST. 

Jew^ rubbing tlie palms of his hands nervously- 
together. 

" The boy must take his chance with the 
rest/^ interrupted Nancy hastily ; " and I say 
again_, I hope he is dead_, and out of harm's 
way and out of yours^, — that is^ if Bill comes 
to no harm^ and^ if Toby got clear off, he's 
pretty sure to for he's worth two of him any 
time/^ 

" And about what I was saying, my dear ?" 
observed the Jew^ keeping his glistening eye 
steadily upon her. 

" You must say it all over again if it's any 
thing you want me to do^" rejoined Nancy : 
'^ and if it is, you had better wait till to-mor- 
row. You put me up for a minute, but now 
Pm stupid again.'^ 

Fagin put several other questions, all with 
the same drift of ascertaining whether the girl 
had profited by his unguarded hints ; but she 
answered them so readily, and was withal so 
utterly unmoved by his searching looks, that 
his original impression of her being more 
than a trifle in liquor was fully confirmed. 



OLIVER TWIST. 107 

Nancy, indeed, was not exempt from a failing 
which was very common among the Jew's 
female pupils, and in which, in their tenderer 
years they were rather encouraged than checked. 
Her disordered appearance, and a wholesale 
perfume of Geneva which pervaded the apart- 
ment, afforded strong confirmatory evidence of 
the justice of the Jew^s supposition ; and when, 
after indulging in the temporary display of vio- 
lence above described, she subsided, first into 
dulness, and afterwards into a compound of 
feelings under the influence of which she shed 
tears one minute, and in the next gave utter- 
ance to various exclamations of '^ Never say 
die !*" and divers calculations as to what might 
be the amount of the odds so long as a lady or 
gentleman were happy, Mr. Fagin, who had 
had considerable experience of such matters in 
his time, saw with great satisfaction that she 
was very far gone indeed. 

Having eased his mind by this discovery, and 
accomplished his twofold object of imparting to 
the girl what he had that night heard, and 
ascertaining with his own eyes that Sikes had 



108 OLIVER TWIST. 

not returned, Mr. Fagin again turned his face 
homeward, leaving his young friend asleep with 
her head upon the table. 

It was within an hour of midnight, and the 
weather being dark and piercing cold, he had 
no great temptation to loiter. The sharp wind 
that scoured the streets seemed to have cleared 
them of passengers as of dust and mud, for few 
people were abroad, and they were to all appear- 
ance hastening fast home. It blew from the 
right quarter for the Jew, however : and 
straight before it he went, trembling and shiver- 
ing as every fresh gust drove him rudely on his 
way. 

He had reached the corner of his own street, 
and was already fumbling in his pocket for the 
door-key, when a dark figure emerged from a 
projecting entrance which lay in deep shadow, 
and, crossing the road, glided up to him unper- 
ceived. 

^^ Fagin!'' whispered a voice close to his 
ear. 

^^ Ah \" said the Jew, turning quickly round. 
'' Is that " 



OLIVER TWIST. 109 

" Yes ?' interrupted the stranger harshly. 
^^ I have been hngering here these two hours. 
Where the devil have you been ?" 

" On your business^ my dear/^ replied the 
Jew, glancing uneasily at his companion, and 
slackening his pace as he spoke. " On your 
business all night.'^ 

'^ Oh, of course !'* said the stranger with a 
sneer. ^^ Well ; and what^s come of it V' 

'^ Nothing good/' said the Jew. 

" Nothing bad, I hope ?'' said the stranger, 
stopping short, and turning a startled look 
■upon his companion. 

The Jew shook his head and was about to 
reply, when the stranger interrupting him mo- 
tioned to the house before which they had 
by this time arrived, and remarked that he had 
better say what he had got to say, under cover, 
for his blood was chilled with standing about 
so long, and the wind blew through him. 

Fagin looked as if he could have willingly 
excused himself from taking home a visiter at 
that unseasonable hour, and muttered something 
about having no fire ; but, his companion, re- 



110 OLIVER TWIST. 

peating his request in a peremptory manner, he 
unlocked the door, and requested him to close 
it softly, while he got a light. 

^^ It's as dark as the grave/' said the man, 
groping forward a few steps. ^^ Make haste. I 

hate this !" 

'^ Shut the door," whispered Fagin from the 
end of the passage. As he spoke, it closed 
with a loud noise. 

^^ That wasn't my doing,^' said the other 
man, feeling his way. " The wind blew it to, 
or it shut of its own accord ; one or the other. 
Look sharp with the light, or I shall knock my 
brains out against something in this confounded 
hole.'' 

Fagin stealthily descended the kitchen stairs, 
and, after a short absence, returned with a 
lighted candle, and the intelligence that Toby 
Crackit was asleep in the back-room below, 
and the boys in the front one. Beckoning the 
other man to follow him, he led the way up 
stairs. 

^^ We can say the few words we've got to say 
in here, my dear," said the Jew, throwing open 



OLIVER TWIST. Ill 

a door on the first floor ; " and as there are 
holes in the shutters^ and we never show lights 
to our neighhours^ we'll set the candle on the 
stairs. There !" 

With these words, the Jew, stooping down, 
placed the candle on an upper flight of stairs 
exactly opposite the room door, and led the 
way into the apartment, which was destitute of 
all moveables save a broken arm-chair, and an 
old couch or sofa without covering, which 
stood behind the door. Upon this piece of 
furniture the stranger flung himself with the air 
of a weary man ; and, the Jew drawing up the 
arm-chair opposite, they sat face to face. It was 
not quite dark, for the door was partially open, 
and the candle outside threw a feeble reflection 
on the opposite wall. 

They conversed for some time in whispers ; 
although nothing of the conversation was dis- 
tinguishable beyond a few disjointed words here 
and there, a listener might easily have per- 
ceived that Fagin appeared to be defending 
himself against some remarks of the stranger, 
and that the latter was in a state of considerable 



112 OLIVER TWIST. 

irritation. They might have been talking thus 
for a quarter of an hour or more, when Monks 
— by which name the Jew had designated 
the strange man several times in the course 
of their colloquy — said, raising his voice a little, 

" I tell you. again it was badly planned. Why 
not have kept him here among the rest, and 
made a sneaking, snivelling pickpocket of him 
at once }" 

" Only hear him I'' exclaimed the Jew, 
shrugging his shoulders. 

'^ Why, do you mean to say you couldn't 
have done it if you had chosen ?^^ demanded 
Monks sternly. " Haven't you done it with 
other boys scores of times ? If you had had 
patience for a twelvemonth at most, couldn"'t 
you have got him convicted and sent safely out 
of the kingdom, perhaps for life r" 

^^ Whose turn would that have served, my 
dear ?'' inquired the Jew humbly. 

" Mine," replied Monks. 

" But not mine,'' said the Jew submissively. 
*^ He might have become of use to me. When 
there are two parties to a bargain, it is only 



OLIVER TWIST. 113 

reasonable that the interest of both should be 
consulted ; is it, my good friend ?" 

" What then V demanded Monks sulkily. 

'^ 1 saw it was not easy to train him to the 
business/^ replied the Jew ; ^' he was not like 
other boys in the same circumstances/^ 

^^ Curse him, no I'' muttered the man, " or 
he would have been a thief long ago.^^ 

" I had no hold upon him to make him 
worse/^ pursued the Jew, anxiously watching 
the countenance of his companion. " His hand 
was not in; I had nothing to frighten him 
with, which we always must have in the be- 
ginning, or we labour in vain. What could I 
do ? Send him out with the Dodger and Char- 
ley ? We had enough of that at first, my dear ; 
I trembled for us all.^^ 

" That was not my doing/^ observed Monks. 

" No, no, my dear T^ renewed the Jew, " and 
I don't quarrel with it now, because, if it had 
never happened, you might never have clapped 
eyes upon the boy to notice him, and so led to 
the discovery that it was him you were looking 

VOL. II, I 



114 OLIVER TWIST.. 

for. Well ; I got him back for you by means 
of the girl, and then she begins to favour 
him.'^ 

"Throttle the girl !'^ said Monks impa- 
tiently. 

^^ Why, we can't afford to do that just now, 
my dear," replied the Jew, smihng ; " and, be- 
sides, that sort of thing is not in our way, or 
one of these days I might be glad to have it 
done. I know what these girls are. Monks, 
well. As soon as the boy begins to harden, 
she'll care no more for him than for a block of 
wood. You want him made a thief : if he is 
alive, I can make him one from this time ; and 
if — if — " said the Jew, drawing nearer to the 
other, — "it's not likely, mind, — but if the 
worst comes to the worst, and he is dead '' 

^^ It's no fault of mine if he is !" interposed 
the other man with a look of terror, and clasp- 
ing the Jews arm with trembling hands. " Mind 
that, Fagin ! I had no hand in it. Any thing 
but his death, I told you from the first. I won't 
shed blood ; it's always found out, and haunts a 



OLIVER TWIST. 115 

man besides. If they shot him dead, I was not 
the cause ; do you hear me ? Fire this infernal 
den !— what's that ?'' 

" What V^ cried the Jew, grasping the coward 
round the body with both arms as he sprung to 
his feet. '' Where ?' 

"Yonder!" replied the man, glaring at the 
opposite wall. *^The shadow — I saw the sha- 
dow of a woman in a cloak and bonnet pass 
along the wainscot like a breath !" 

The Jew released his hold, and they rushed 
tumultuously from the room. The candle, 
wasted by the draught, was standing where it 
had been placed, and showed them the empty 
staircase, and their own white faces. They list- 
ened intently, but a profound silence reigned 
throughout the house. 

^^ It's your fancy," said the Jew, taking up 
the light, and turning to his companion. 

" I'll swear I saw it !" replied Monks, trem- 
bling violently. " It was bending forward when 
I saw it first, and when I spoke it darted 
away." 

The Jew glanced contemptuously at the pale 
I 2 



116 OLIVER TWIST. 

face of his associate^ and, telling him he could 
follow if he pleased, ascended the stairs. They 
looked into all the rooms; they were cold, 
bare, and empty. They descended to the pas- 
sage, and thence into the cellars below. The 
green damp hung upon the low walls, and the 
tracks of the snail and slug glistened in the 
light, but all was still as death. 

^^ What do you think now V' said the 
Jew, when they had regained the passage. 
^^ Besides ourselves, there's not a creature in 
the house except Toby and the boys, and 
they're safe enough. See here !" 

As a proof of the fact, the Jew drew forth 
two keys from his pocket ; and explained that 
when he first went down stairs he had locked 
them in, to prevent any intrusion on the con- 
ference. 

This accumulated testimony eiFectually stag- 
gered Mr. Monks. His protestations had 
gradually become less and less vehement as 
they proceeded in their search without making 
any discovery ; and now he gave vent to several 
very grim laughs, and confessed it could only 



OLIVER TWIST. 117 

have been his excited imagination. He declined 
any renewal of the conversation, however, for 
that night, suddenly remembering that it was 
past one o'clock; and so the amiable couple 
parted. 



118 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

ATONES FOR THE UNPOLITENESS OF A FORMER CHAPTER, 
WHICH DESERTED A LADY MOST UNCEREMONIOUSLY. 

As it would be by no means seemly in an 
humble author to keep so mighty a person- 
age as a beadle waiting with his back to the 
fire and the skirts of his coat gathered up 
under his arms_, until such time as it might suit 
his pleasure to relieve him; and as it would 
still less become his station or his gallantry to 
involve in the same neglect a lady on whom 
that beadle had looked with an eye of tender- 
ness and affection, and in whose ear he had 
whispered sweet v/ords, which, coming from 
such a quarter, might well thrill the bosom of 
maid or matron of whatsoever degree — the 
faithful historian whose pen traces these words, 
trusting that he knows his place, and entertains 



OLIVER TWIST. 119 

a becoming reverence for those upon earth to 
whom high and important authority is dele- 
gated, hastens to pay them that respect which 
their position demands, and to treat them with all 
that duteous ceremony which their exalted rank 
and (by consequence) great virtues imperatively 
claim at his hands. Towards this end, indeed, 
he had purposed to introduce in this place a dis- 
sertation touching the divine right of beadles, 
and elucidative of the position that a beadle can 
do no wrong, which could not fail to have been 
both pleasurable and profitable to the right- 
minded reader, but which he is unfortunately 
compelled by want of time and space to post- 
pone to some more convenient and fitting op- 
portunity ; on the arrival of which, he will be 
prepared to show, that a beadle properly consti- 
tuted — that is to say, a parochial beadle at- 
tached to a parochial workhouse, and attending 
in his official capacity the parochial church, — 
is, in right and virtue of his ofhce, possessed of 
all the excellences and best qualities of hu- 
manity ; and that to none of those excellences 
can mere companies^ beadles, or court-of-law 



120 OLIVER TWIST. 

beadles, or even chapel-of-ease beadles (save the 
last, and they in a very lowly and inferior de- 
gree), lay the remotest sustainable claim. 

Mr. Bumble had re-counted the tea-spoons, 
re-weighed the sugar-tongs, made a closer in- 
spection of the milk-pot, and ascertained to a 
nicety the exact condition of the furniture down 
to the very horse-hair seats of the chairs ; and 
had repeated each process full half-a-dozen 
times, before he began to think that it was 
time for Mrs. Corney to return. Thinking be- 
gets thinking ; and, as there were no sounds of 
Mrs. Corney's approach, it occurred to Mr. 
Bumble that it would be an innocent and vir- 
tuous way of spending the time, if he were fur- 
ther to allay his curiosity by a cursory glance at 
the interior of Mrs. Corney^s chest of drawers. 

Having listened at the keyhole to assure him- 
self that nobody was approaching the chamber, 
Mr. Bumble, beginning at the bottom, pro- 
ceeded to make himself acquainted with the 
contents of the three long drawers; which, 
being filled with various garments of good 
fashion and texture, carefully preserved between 



OLIVER TWIST. 121 

two layers of old newspaper speckled with dried 
lavender, seemed to yield him exceeding satis- 
faction. Arriving in course of time at the right- 
hand corner drawer (in which was the key), and 
beholding therein a small padlocked box, which, 
being shaken, gave forth a pleasant sound as of 
the chinking of coin, Mr. Bumble returned with 
a stately walk to the fireplace, and, resuming his 
old attitude, said, with a grave and determined 
air, '^ ni do it !" He followed up this remark- 
able declaration by shaking his head in a waggish 
manner for ten minutes, as though he were re- 
monstrating with himself for being such a plea- 
sant dog, and then took a view of his legs 
in profile with much seeming pleasure and in- 
terest. 

He was still placidly engaged in this latter 
survey when Mrs. Corney, hurrying into the 
room, threw herself in a breathless state on a 
chair by the fireside, and covering her eyes with 
one hand, placed the other over her heart, and 
gasped for breath. 

" Mrs. Corney ,^^ said Mr. Bumble, stooping 



122 OLIVER TWIST. 

over the matron, "what is this, ma'am? has 
any thing happened, ma'am ? Pray answer me ; 
I'm on — on — " Mr. Bumble in his alarm could 
not immediately think of the word ^^tenter- 
hooks," so he said " broken bottles." 

'' Oh Mr. Bumble !" cried the lady, " I have 
been so dreadfully put out !" 

" Put out, ma'am !" exclaimed Mr. Bumble ; 
" who has dared to — ? I know 1" said Mr. 
Bumble, checking himself with native majesty, 
"this is them wicious paupers !" 

'' It's dreadful to think of !" said the lady, 
shuddering. 

"Then douH think of it, ma''am," rejoined 
Mr. Bumble. 

" I can''t help it, whimpered the lady. 

^^Then take something, ma'am," said Mr. 
Bumble soothingly. " A little of the wine ?" 

" Not for the world !" replied Mrs. Corney. 
^' I couldn't, — oh ! The top shelf in the right- 
hand corner — oh !" Uttering these words, the 
good lady pointed distractedly to the cupboard, 
and underwent a convulsion from internal 



OLIVER TWIST. 123 

spasms. Mr. Bumble rushed to the closet, 
and_, snatching a pint green-glass bottle from 
the shelf thus incoherently indicated, filled a 
tea-cup with its contents, and held it to the 
lady^s lips. 

" I^m better now," said Mrs. Corney, falling 
back after drinking half of it. 

Mr. Bumble raised his eyes piously to the 
ceiling in thankfulness, and, bringing them 
down again to the brim of the cup, lifted it to 
his nose. 

^^ Peppermint," explained Mrs. Corney in a 
faint voice, smiling gently on the beadle as she 
spoke. " Try it ; there^s a little — a little some- 
thing else in it." 

Mr. Bumble tasted the medicine with a 
doubtful look ; smacked his lips, took another 
taste, and put the cup down empty. 

^' It is very comforting," said Mrs. Corney. 

'^Very much so, indeed, ma'am," said the 
beadle. As he spoke, he drew a chair beside 
the matron, and tenderly inquired what had 
happened to distress her. 



124 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ Nothing/^ replied Mrs. Corney. ^^ I am a 
foolish^ excitable, weak creetur.^^ 

"Not weak, ma'am," retorted Mr. Bumble, 
drawing his chair a little closer. " Are you a 
weak creetur, Mrs. Corney?'^ 

^^We are all weak creeturs,'' said Mrs. 
Corney, laying down a general principle.'^ 

" So we are,'^ said the beadle. 

Nothing was said on either side for a minute 
or two afterwards ; and by the expiration of 
that time Mr. Bumble had illustrated the posi- 
tion by removing his left arm from the back of 
Mrs. Corney"'s chair where it had previously 
rested, to Mrs. Corney's apron-string, round 
which it gradually became intwined. 

" We are all weak creeturs,'' said Mr. Bum- 
ble. 

Mrs. Corney sighed. 

" Don't sigh, Mrs. Corney," said Mr. Bum- 
ble. 

"I can't help it," said Mrs. Corney. And she 
sighed again. 

" This is a very comfortable room, ma'am," 



OLIVER TWIST. 125 

said Mr. Bumble^ looking round. " Another 
room and this^ ma'am, would be a complete 
thing.'' 

^^ It would be too much for one,'' murmured 
the lady. 

" But not for two, ma'am," rejoined Mr. 
Bumble in soft accents. " Eh, Mrs. Corney?" 

Mrs. Corney drooped her head when the 
beadle said this, and the beadle drooped his to 
get a view of Mrs. Corney's face. Mrs. Corney 
with great propriety turned her head away, and 
released her hand to get at her pocket-handker- 
chief, but insensibly replaced it in that of Mr. 
Bumble. 

^^ The board allow you coals, don't they, Mrs. 
Corney?" inquired the beadle, affectionately 
pressing her hand. 

" And candles," replied Mrs. Corney, slightly 
returning the pressure. 

" Coals, candles, and house-rent free," said 
Mr. Bumble. " Oh, Mrs. Corney, what a 
angel you are :" 

The lady was not proof against this burst of 
feeling. She sunk into Mr. Bumble's arms; 



126 OLIVER TWIST. 

and that gentleman, in his agitation, imprinted 
a passionate kiss upon her chaste nose. 

'' Such porochial perfection !" exclaimed Mr. 
Bumble rapturously. ^^ You know that Mr. 
Slout is worse to-night, my fascinator ?'* 

'^ Yes," replied Mrs. Corney bashfully. 

" He can't live a week, the doctor says," 
pursued Mr. Bumble. ^^ He is the master of 
this establishment; his death will cause a 
wacancy ; that wacancy must be filled uj:). Oh 
Mrs. Corney, what a prospect this opens ! 
What a opportunity for a joining of hearts and 
housekeeping !" 

Mrs. Corney sobbed. 

" The httle word ?" said Mr. Bumble, bend- 
ing over the bashful beauty. " The one little, 
little, little word, my blessed Corney ?" 

^^ Ye — ye — yes !" sighed out the matron. 

" One more," pursued the beadle ; " com- 
pose your darling feelings for only one more. 
When is it to come off?" 

Mrs. Corney twice essayed to speak, and 
twice failed. At length, summoning up courage, 
she threw her arms round Mr. Bumble's neck. 



OLIVER TWIST. 127 

and said it might be as soon as ever he pleased, 
and that he was ^^ a irresistible duck." 

Matters being thus amicably and satisfactorily 
arranged, the contract was solemnly ratified in 
another tea-cupful of the peppermint mixture, 
which was rendered the more necessary by the 
flutter and agitation of the lady's spirits. While 
it was being disposed of, she acquainted Mr. 
Bumble with the old woman's decease. 

" Very good," said that gentleman, sipping 
his peppermint. ^^ I'll call at Sowerberry's as 
I go home, and tell him to send to-morrow 
morning. Was it that as frightened you, 
love?" 

" It wasn't any thing particular, dear," said 
the lady evasively. 

" It must have been something, love," urged 
Mr. Bumble. ^^ Won't you tell your own B. V 

^'^ Not now," rejoined the lady; "one of 
these days, — after we're married, dear." 

" After weVe married !" exclaimed Mr. Bum- 
ble. " It wasn't any impudence from any of 
them male paupers as " 

" No, no, love I" interposed the lady hastily. 



128 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ If I thought it was/' continued Mr. Bum- 
ble^ — " if I thought any one of . 'em had dared 
to lift his wulgar eyes to that lovely counten- 
ance — '' 

'^ They wouldn't have dared to do it^ love," 
responded the lady. 

^'^They had better not!" said Mr. Bumble, 
clenching his fist. " Let me see any man, 
porochial or extra-porochial, as would presume 
to do it, and I can tell him that he wouldn't do 
it a second time !" 

Unembellished by any violence of gesticula- 
tion, this might have sounded as no very high 
compliment to the lady's charms ; but, as Mr. 
Bumble accompanied the threat with many 
warlike gestures, she was much touched with 
this proof of his devotion, and protested with 
great admiration that he was indeed a dove. 

The dove then turned up his coat-collar, and 
put on his cocked-hat, and, having exchanged 
a long and affectionate embrace with his future 
partner once again braved the cold wind of the 
night ; merely pausing for a few minutes in the 
male paupers' ward to abuse them a little, with 



OLIVER TWIST. 129 

tlie view of satisfying himself that he could fill 
the office of workhouse-master with needful 
acerbity. Assured of his quahfications, Mr. 
Bumble left the building with a light heart and 
bright visions of his future promotion, which 
served to occupy his mind until he reached the 
shop of the undertaker. 

Now, Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry having gone 
out to tea and supper, and Noah Claypole not 
being at any time disposed to take upon himself 
a greater amount of physical exertion than is 
necessary to a convenient performance of the 
two functions of eating and drinking, the shop 
was not closed, although it was past the usual 
hour of shutting-up. Mr. Bumble tapped with 
his cane on the counter several times ; but, at- 
tracting no attention, and beholding a light 
shining through the glass-window of the little 
parlour at the back of the shop, he made bold 
to peep in and see what was going forward ; 
and, when he saw w^hat was going forward, he 
was not a little surprised. 

The cloth was laid for supper, and the table 
was covered with bread and butter, plates and 

VOL. II. K 



130 OLIVER TWIST. 

glasses^ a porter-pot^ and a wine-bottle. At the 
upper end of the table Mr. Noah Claypole lolled 
negligently in an easy-chair with his legs thrown 
over one of the arms, an open clasp-knife in one 
hand, and a mass of buttered bread in the 
other ; close beside him stood Charlotte, open- 
ing oysters from a barrel, which Mr. Claypole 
condescended to swallow with remarkable 
avidity. A more than ordinary redness in the 
region of the young gentleman's nose, and "a 
kind of fixed wink in his right eye, denoted that 
he was in a slight degree intoxicated ; and these 
symptoms were confirmed by the intense relish 
with which he took his oysters, for which no- 
thing but a strong appreciation of their cooling 
properties in cases of internal fever could have 
sufficiently accounted. 

" Here's a delicious fat one, Noah, dear !" 
said Charlotte ; " try him, do ; only this one." 

^^ What a delicious thing is a oyster!" re- 
marked Mr. Claypole after he had swallowed it. 
'^ What a pity it is a number of 'em should 
ever make you feel uncomfortable, isn't it, 
Charlotte ?" 



li? 




VI^P^i|# 



'%i 




M 




juL-=— 




.^.^" 0^^/z^^< /^ /£^ .<z4/i^^aA<s^ r/M.e^z- ^y^ 9^z<zJ^^y. -/z/fz^ .^<^ 



l.orLdmi,lUchardBen:Llev "March 1.1838. 



OLIVER TWIST. 131 

'^ It's quite a cruelty," said Charlotte. 
*' So it is/' acquiesced Mr. Claypole. '^ Ain^t 
yer fond of oysters ?" 

'^ Not overmuch/' replied Charlotte. ^^ I like 
to see you eat 'em, Noah dear, better than eat- 
ing them myself." 

" Lor' ! '"' said Noah reflectively ; " how 
queer!" 

'^ Have another ?" said Charlotte. " Here's 
one with such a beautiful, delicate beard !" 

^^ I can't manage any more," said Noah. 
^^ I'm very sorry. Come here, Charlotte, and 
ni kiss yer." 

" What !" said Mr. Bumble, bursting into 
the room. ^^ Say that again, sir.*" 

Charlotte uttered a scream, and hid her face 
in her apron; while Mr. Claypole, without 
making any further change in his position than 
suffering his legs to reach the ground, gazed at 
the beadle in drunken terror. 

^^ Say it again, you vile, owdacious fellow !'' 

said Mr. Bumble. '^ How dare you mention 

such a thing, sir ? And how dare you encourage 

him, you insolent minx? Kiss her!" ex- 

k2 



132 OLIVER TWIST. 

claimed Mr. Bumble in strong indignation. 
" Faugh !" 

'^ I didn't mean to do it !" said Noah^ blub- 
bering. ^' She's always a-kissing of me, whether 
I like it or not." 

" Oh, Noah !" cried Charlotte reproachfully. 

^^ Yer are, yer know yer are !" retorted Noah, 
" She's always a-doing of it, Mr. Bumble, sir ; 
she chucks me under the chin, please sir, and 
makes all manner of love !" 

^^ Silence !" cried Mr. Bumble sternly. " Take 
yourself down stairs, ma'am. Noah, you shut 
up the shop, and say another word till your 
master comes home at your peril ; and, when he 
does come home, tell him that Mr. Bumble 
said he w^as to send a old woman's shell after 
breakfast to-morrow morning. Do you hear, 
sir ? Kissing !" cried Mr. Bumble, holding up 
his hands. " The sin and wickedness of the 
lower orders in this porochial district is fright- 
ful ; if parliament don't take their abominable 
courses under consideration, this country's 
ruined, and the character of the peasantry gone 
for ever ! " With these words the beadle strode. 



OLIVER TWIST. 133 

with a lofty and gloomy air, from the under- 
taker's premises. 

And now that we have accompanied him so 
far on his road home, and have made all neces- 
sary preparations for the old woman's funeral, 
let us set on foot a few inquiries after young 
Oliver Twist, and ascertain whether he be still 
lying in the ditch where Toby Crackit left 
him. 



134 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

LOOKS AFTER OLIVER, AND PROCEEDS WITH HIS 
ADVENTURES. 

^^ Wolves tear your throats ! " muttered 
Sikes, grinding his teeth. " I wish I was among 
some of you ; you'd howl the hoarser for it." 

As Sikes growled forth this imprecation with 
the most desperate ferocity that his desperate 
nature was capable of^ he rested the body of the 
wounded boy across his bended knee, and 
turned his head for an instant to look back at 
his pursuers. 

There was little to be made out in the mist 
and darkness ; but the loud shouting of men 
vibrated through the air^ and the barking of the 
neighbouring dogs, roused by the sound of the 
alarm-bell, resounded in every direction. 

" Stop;, you white-livered hound !^' cried the 



OLIVER TWIST. 135 

robber^ shouting after Toby Crackit who. making 
the best use of his long legs^ was already ahead^ 
— ^^stop!" 

The repetition of the word brought Toby to 
a dead stand-stilly for he was not quite satisfied 
that he was beyond the range of pistol-shot, 
and Sikes was in no mood to be played with. 

^' Bear a hand with the boy/^ roared Sikes, 
beckoning furiously to his confederate. " Come 
back V' 

Toby made a show of returning, but ven- 
tured in a low voice, broken for want of breatli, 
to intimate considerable reluctance as he came 
slowly along. 

'' Quicker V' cried Sikes, laying the boy in a 
dry ditch at liis feet, and drawing a pistol 
from his pocket. " Don't play the booby with 
me.'' 

At this moment the noise grew louder, and 
Sikes again looking round, could discern that 
the men who had given chase were already 
climbing the gate of the field in which he stood, 
and that a couple of dogs were some paces in 
advance of them. 



136 OLIVER TWIST. 

" It's all up, Bill/' cried Toby, '' drop the 
kid and show 'em your heels." With this part- 
ing advice, Mr. Crackit, preferring the chance 
of being shot by his friend to the certainty of 
being taken by his enemies, fairly turned tail, 
and darted off at full speed. Sikes clenched 
his teeth, took one look round, threw over the 
prostrate form of Oliver the cape in which he 
had been hurriedly muffled, ran along the front 
of the hedge as if to distract the attention of 
those behind, from the spot where the boy lay, 
paused for a second before another hedge 
which met it at right angles, and whirling his 
pistol high into the air, cleared it at a bound 
and was gone. 

^^ Ho, ho, there I" cried a tremulous voice in 
the rear. ^^ Pincher, Neptune, come here, come 
here!" 

The dogs, which in common with their mas- 
ters, seemed to have no particular-relish for the 
sport in which they were engaged, readily an- 
swered to this command : and three men, who 
had by this time advanced some distance into 
the field, stopped to take counsel together. 



OLIVER TWIST. 137 

^^ My advice^ or leastways I should say, my 
orders is,'* said the fattest man of the party, 
^^ that we 'mediately go home again." 

*^ I am agreeable to any thing which is agree- 
able to Mr. Giles," said a shorter man, who was 
by no means of a slim figure, and who was very 
pale in the face, and very polite, as frightened 
men frequently are. 

^^ I shouldn^t wish to appear ill-mannered, 
gentlemen," said the third, who had called the 
dogs back, ^^ Mr. Giles ought to know.^^ 

^^ Certainly,'^ replied the shorter man ; " and 
whatever Mr. Giles says, it isn't our place to 
contradict him. No, no, I know my sitiwation, 
— thank my stars I know my sitiwation." To 
tell the truth, the little man did seem to know 
his situation, and to know perfectly well that it 
was by no means a desirable one, for his teet 
chattered in his head as he spoke. 

" You are afraid, Brittles," said Mr. Giles. 

'' I ain't," said Brittles. 

" You are," said Giles. 

" You're a falsehood, Mr. Giles,^' said Brittles, 



138 OLIVER TWIST. 

" You're a lie, Brittles," said Mr. Giles. 

Now, these four retorts arose from Mr. 
Giles's taunt, and Mr. Giles's taunt had arisen 
from his indignation at having the responsi- 
bility of going home again, imposed upon him- 
self under cover of a compliment. The third 
man brought the dispute to a close most philo- 
sophically. 

'^ Fll tell you Avhat it is, gentlemen," said he, 
^^ we're all afraid." 

" Speak for yourself, sir," said Mr. Giles, 
who was the palest of the party. 

'^ So I do,'' replied the man. " It's natural 
and proper to be afraid, under such circum- 
stances. / am." 

^^ So am I," said Brittles, " only there's no 
call to tell a man he is, so bounceably." 

These frank admissions softened Mr. Giles, 
who at once owned that he was afraid ; upon 
which they all three faced about and ran back 
again with the completest unanimity, till Mr. 
Giles (who had the shortest wind of the party, 
and was encumbered with a pitchfork) most 



OLIVER TWIST 139 

handsomely insisted upon stopping to make an 
apology for his hastiness of speech. 

^' But it's wonderfuV said Mr. Giles^, when 
he had explained, ^^ what a man will do when 
his blood is up. I should have committed mur- 
der, I know I should, if we'd caught one of the 
rascals." 

As the other two were impressed with a simi- 
lar presentiment, and their blood, like his, had 
all gone down again, some speculation ensued 
upon the cause of this sudden change in their 
temperament. 

^^ I know what it was," said Mr. Giles ; '^ it 
was the gate." 

" I shouldn't wonder if it was," exclaimed 
Brittles, catching at the idea. 

" You may depend upon it," said Giles, '^ that 
that gate stopped the flow of the excitement. I 
felt all mine suddenly going away as I was 
climbing over it" 

By a remarkable coincidence the other two 
had been visited with the same unpleasant sen- 
sation at that precise moment ; so that it was 
quite conclusive that it was the gate, especially 



140 OLIVER TWIST. 

as there was no doubt regarding the time at 
which the change had taken place, because all 
three remembered that they had come in sight 
of the robbers at the very instant of its occur- 
rence. 

This dialogue was held between the two men 
who had surprised the burglars, and a travelUng 
tinker who had been sleeping in an outhouse, 
and who had been roused, together with his two 
mongrel curs, to join in the pursuit. Mr. Giles 
acted in the double capacity of butler and stew- 
ard to the old lady of the mansion, and Brittles 
was a lad of all-work, who having entered her 
service a mere child, was treated as a promising 
young boy still, though he was something past 
thirty. 

Encouraging each other with such converse 
as this, but keeping very close together, not- 
withstanding, and looking apprehensively round 
whenever a fresh gust rattled through the 
boughs, the three men hurried back to a tree 
behind which they had left their lantern, lest its 
light should inform the thieves in what direc- 
tion to fire. Catching up the light, they made 



OLIVER TWIST. 141 

the best of their way home at a good round 
trot; and long after their dusky forms had 
ceased to be discernible, it might have been 
seen twinkling and dancing in the distance, like 
some exhalation of the damp and gloomy at- 
mosphere through which it was swiftly borne. 

The air grew colder as day came slowly on, 
and the mist rolled along the ground like a 
dense cloud of smoke ; the grass was wet, the 
pathways and low places were all mire and 
water, and the damp breath of an unwholesome 
wind went languidly by with a hollow moaning. 
Still Oliver lay motionless and insensible on the 
spot where Sikes had left him. 

Morning drew on apace ; the air became more 
sharp and piercing as its first dull hue — the 
death of night rather than the birth of day — 
glimmered faintly in the sky. The objects 
which had looked dim and terrible in the dark- 
ness grew more and more defined, and gradually 
resolved into their familiar shapes. The rain 
came down thick and fast, and pattered noisily 
among the leafless bushes. But Oliver felt it 
not, as it beat against him, for he still lay 



142 OLIVER TWIST. 

stretched, helpless and unconscious, on his bed 
of clay. 

At length a low cry of pain broke the still- 
ness that prevailed, and uttering it, the boy 
awoke. His left arm, rudely bandaged in a 
shawl, hung heavy and useless at his side, and 
the bandage was saturated with blood. He was 
so weak that he could scarcely raise himself into 
a sitting posture, and when he had done so, he 
looked feebly round for help and groaned with 
pain. Trembling in every joint from cold and 
exhaustion, he made an effort to stand upright, 
but shuddering from head to foot, fell prostrate 
on the ground. 

After a short return of the stupor in which 
he had been so long plunged, Oliver, urged by 
a creeping sickness at his heart, which seemed 
to warn him that if he lay there he must surely 
die, got upon his feet and essayed to walk. His 
head was dizzy, and he staggered to and fro 
like a drunken man ; but he kept up neverthe- 
less, and, with his head drooping languidly on 
his breast, went stumbling onward he knew not 
whither. 



OLIVER TWIST. 143 

And now, hosts of bewildering and confused 
ideas came crowding on his mind. He seemed 
to be still walking between Sikes and Crackit, 
who were angrily disputing, for the very words 
they said sounded in his ears: and when he 
caught his own attention, as it were, by making 
some violent effort to save himself from falling, 
he found that he was talking to them. Then 
he was alone with Sikes plodding on as they 
had done the previous day, and as shadowy 
people passed them by, he felt the robber's 
grasp upon his wrist. Suddenly he started 
back at the report of fire-arms, and there rose 
into the air loud cries and shouts ; lights 
gleamed before his eyes, and all was noise and 
tumult as some unseen hand bore him hur- 
riedly away. Through all these rapid visions 
there ran an undefined, uneasy, consciousness 
of pain which wearied and tormented him in- 
cessantly. 

Thus he staggered on, creeping almost me- 
chanically between the bars of gates, or through 
hedge-gaps as they came in his way, until he 



144 OLIVER TWIST. 

reached a road ; and here the rain began to fall 
so heavily that it roused him. 

He looked about^ and saw that at no great 
distance there was a house, which perhaps he 
could reach. Seeing his condition they might 
have compassion on him, and if they did not, 
it would be better, he thought, to die near 
human beings than in the lonely open fields. 
He summoned up all his strength for one last 
trial, and bent his faltering steps towards it. 

As he drew nearer to this house, a feeling 
came over him that he had seen it before. He 
remembered nothing of its details, but the 
shape and aspect of the building seemed familiar 
to him. 

That garden-wall! On the grass inside he 
had fallen on his knees last night, and prayed 
the two men's mercy. It was the very same 
house they had attempted to rob. 

Oliver felt such fear come over him when he 
recognised the place, that for the instant he 
forgot the agony of his wound, and thought 
only of flight. Flight ! He could scarcely 



OLIVER TWIST. 145 

stand ; and if he were in full possession of all 
the best powers of his slight and youthful 
frame^ where could he fly to? He pushed 
against the garden-gate ; it was unlocked and 
swung open on its hinges. He tottered across 
the lawn^ climbed the steps^ knocked faintly at 
the door^ and his whole strength failing him, 
sunk down against one of the pillars of the 
little portico. 

It happened that about this time, Mr. Giles, 
Brittles, and the tinker were recruiting them- 
selves after the fatigues and terrors of the night, 
with tea and sundries in the kitchen. Not that 
it was Mr. Giles''s habit to admit to too great 
familiarity the humbler servants, towards whom 
it was rather his wont to deport himself with a 
lofty afl'ability, which, while it gratified could 
not fail to remind them of his superior position 
in society. But death, fires, and burglary make 
all men equals ; and Mr. Giles sat with his 
legs stretched out before the kitchen fender, 
leaning his left arm on the table, while with 
his right he illustrated a circumstantial and 

VOL. II. L 



146 OLIVER TWIST. 

minute account of the robbery, to which his 
hearers (but especially the cook and housemaid, 
who were of the party) listened with breathless 
interest. 

^' It was about half-past two/^ said Mr. Giles, 
^^ or I wouldn't swear that it mightn't have been 
a Httle nearer three, when I woke up, and turn- 
ing round in my bed, as it might be so (here 
Mr. Giles turned round in his chair, and 
pulled the corner of the table-cloth over him to 
imitate bedclothes), I fancied I heerd a noise." 

At this point of the narrative the cook turned 
pale, and asked the housemaid to shut the door, 
who asked Brittles, who asked the tinker, who 
pretended not to hear, 

^^ — Heerd a noise," continued Mr. Giles. " I 
says at first, ^ This is illusion ;' and was com- 
posing myself off to sleep when I heerd the 
noise again, distinct." 

" What sort of a noise ?" asked the cook, 

" A kind of a busting noise," replied Mr. 
Giles, looking round him. 

" More like the noise of powdering an 



OLIVER TWIST. 147 

iron bar on a nutmeg-grater/' suggested 
Brittles. 

" It was, when you heerd, sir/^ rejoined Mr. 
Giles ; '^ but at this time it had a busting 
sound. I turned down the clothes/^ continued 
Giles, rolling back the table-cloth, ^^ sat up in 
bed, and listened.^^ 

The cook and housemaid simultaneously eja- 
culated, ^^ Lor !'' and drew their chairs closer 
together. 

^^ I heerd it now, quite apparent," resumed 
Mr. Giles. " ' Somebody,^ I says, ^ is forcing 
of a door or window ; what^s to be done ! I'll 
call up that poor lad, Brittles, and save him 
from being murdered in his bed, or his throat/ 
I says, ^ may be cut from his right ear to his 
left, without his ever knowing it.' '' 

Here all eyes were turned upon Brittles, \A\o 
fixed his upon the speaker, and stared at him 
with his mouth wide open, and his face expres- 
sive of the most unmitigated horror. 

" I tossed off the clothes,^' said Giles, throw- 
ing away the table-cloth, and looldng very hard 
L 2 



148 OLIVER TWIST. 

at the cook and housemaid^ "^ got softly out of 
bed^ drew on a pair of — '' 

'^ Ladies present, Mr. Giles," murmured the 
tinker. 

*^ — Of shoes, sir," said Giles, turning upon 
him, and laying great emphasis on the word, 
seized the loaded pistol that always goes up 
stairs with the plate-basket, and walked on 
tiptoes to his room. ^ Brittles,^ I says, when I 
had woke him, ^ don^t be frightened !' " 

" So you did," observed Brittles, in a low 
voice. 

" ^ WeVe dead men, I think, Brittles, I 
says,^ " continued Giles, " ' but don't be under 
any alarm .^ " 

^^ Was he frightened ?" asked the cook. 

" Not a bit of it," rephed Mr. Giles. " He 
was as firm — ah! pretty near as firm as I 
was." 

" I should have died at once, I^m sure if it 
had been me," observed the housemaid. 

" You^re a woman," retorted Brittles, pluck- 
ing up a little. 



OLIVER TWIST. 149 

*^ Brittles is right/' said Mr. Giles^ nodding 
liis head approvingly ; '^ from a woman nothing 
else was to be expected. We^ being men^ took a 
dark lantern that was standing on Britties's hob, 
and groped our way down stairs in the pitch 
dark, — as it might be so." 

Mr. Giles had risen from his seat, and taken 
two steps with his eyes shut to accompany his 
description with appropriate action, when he 
started violently in common with the rest of the 
company, and hurried back to his chair. The 
cook and housemaid screamed. 

^^ It was a knock," said Mr. Giles, assuming 
perfect serenity ; " open the door, somebody." 

Nobody moved. 

^^ It seems a strange sort of thing, a knock 
coming at such a time in the morning," said Mr. 
Giles, surveying the pale faces which sur- 
rounded him, and looking very blank himself ; 
^^ but the door must be opened. Do you hear, 
somebody ?" 

Mr. Giles, as he spoke, looked at Brittles ; 
but that young man being naturally modest, 
probably considered himself nobody, and so 



150 OLIVER TWIST. 

held that the inquiry could not have any appli- 
cation to him. At all events he tendered no 
reply. Mr. Giles directed an appealing glance 
at the tinker^ but he had suddenly fallen asleep. 
The women were out of the question. 

^^ If Brittles would rather open the door in 
the presence of witnesses/' said Mr. Giles, 
after a short silence^ " I am ready to make 
one.^^ 

'^ So am I/^ said the tinker^ waking up as 
suddenly as he had fallen asleep. 

Brittles capitulated on these terms ; and the 
party being somewhat reassured by the disco- 
very (made on throwing open the shutters) that 
it was now broad day, took their way up stairs 
with the dogs in front, and the two women who 
were afraid to stop below, bringing up the rear. 
By the advice of Mr. Giles they all talked very 
loud, to warn any evil-disposed person outside 
that they were strong in numbers; and by a 
master-stroke of policy, originating in the brain 
of the same ingenious gentleman, the dogs' tails 
were well pinched in the hall to make them bark 
savagely. 




^^^^2;^^.'^^ ^/^.,,.#^,-^^^^^^^ ./^. 



OLIVER TWIST. 151 

These precautions having been taken^ Mr. 
Giles held on fast by the tinker's arm (to pre- 
vent his running away^ as he pleasantly said)^ 
and gave the word of command to open the 
door. Brittles obeyed, and the group peeping 
timorously over each other's shoulders^ beheld 
no more formidable object than poor little 
Oliver Twist, speechless and exhausted, who 
raised his heavy eyes, and mutely solicited their 
compassion. 

^^ A boy ?' exclaimed Mr. Giles, valiantly 
pushing the tinker into the background. 
"What's the matter with the— eh ?— Why — 
Brittles — look here — don't you know ?" 

Brittles, who had got behind the door to 
open it, no sooner saw Oliver, than he ut- 
tered a loud cry. Mr. Giles seizing the boy 
by one leg and one arm — fortunately not the 
broken limb — lugged him straight into the hall, 
and deposited him at full length on the ground 
thereof. 

" Here he is !" bawled Giles, calling in a 
great state of excitement up the staircase^ 
" here's one of the thieves, ma'am ! Here's a 



152 OLIVER TWIST. 

thief, miss — wounded^ miss ! I shot him, miss, 
and Brittles held the hght/' 

^* In a lantern, miss," cried Brittles, applying 
one hand to the side of his mouth, so that his 
voice might travel the better. 

The two -women-servants ran up stairs to 
carry the intelligence that Mr. Giles had cap- 
tured a robber ; and the tinker busied himself 
in endeavouring to restore Oliver, lest he 
should die before he could be hung. In the 
midst of all this noise and commotion there was 
heard a sweet female voice which quelled it in 
an instant. 

^^ Giles !" whispered the A^oice from the stair- 
head. 

" Fm here, miss," replied Mr. Giles. "Don't 
be frightened, miss ; I ain't much injured. He 
didn't m.ake a very desperate resistance, miss ; 
I was soon too many for him." 

" Hush !" replied the young lady ; '^ you 
frighten my aunt as much as the thieves did. 
Is the poor creature much hurt ?" 

" Wounded desperate, miss," replied Giles, 
with indescribable complacency. 



OLIVER TWIST. 153 

^* He looks as if he was a-going, miss," 
bawled Brittles, in the same manner as before. 
^^ Wouldn't you like to come and look at him, 
miss, in case he should — ?" 

'' Hush, pray, there's a good man !" rejoined 
the young lady. '^ Wait quietly one instant 
while I speak to aunt." 

With a footstep as soft and gentle as the 
voice, the speaker tripped away, and soon re- 
turned with the direction that the wounded 
person was to be carried carefully up stairs to 
Mr. Giles's room, and that Brittles was to 
saddle the pony and betake himself instantly to 
Chertsey, from which place he was to despatch 
with all speed a constable and doctor. 

" But won't you take one look at him, first, 
miss ?" asked Mr. Giles, with as much pride as 
if Oliver were some bird of rare plumage that 
he had skilfully brought down. ^^ Not one 
little peep, miss ?'^ 

^^ Not now for the world," replied tlie young 
lady. ^^ Poor fellow ! oh ! treat him kindly, 
Giles, if it is only for my sake !" 

The old servant looked up at the speaker. 



154 OLIVER TWIST. 

as she turned away^ with a glance as proud and 
admiring as if she had been his own child. 
Then bending over Oliver^ he helped to carry 
him up stairs with the care and solicitude of a 
woman. 



OLIVER TWIST. lOO 



CHAPTER XXVIX. 

HAS AN INTRODUCTORY ACCOUNT OF THE INMATES OF 
THE HOUSE TO WHICH OLIVER RESORTED, AND RELATES 
WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF HIM. 

In a handsome room — though its furniture 
had rather the air of old-fashioned comfort, 
than of modern elegance — there sat two ladies 
at a well-spread breakfast-table. Mr. Giles 
dressed with scrupulous care in a full suit of 
black, was in attendance upon them. He had 
taken his station some half-way betv/een the 
sideboard and the breakfast-table, and with his 
body drawn up to its full height, his head 
thrown back, and inclined the merest trifle on 
one side, his left leg advanced, and his right 
hand thrust into his waistcoat, while his left 
hung down by his side grasping a vraiter, 
looked like one who laboured under a very 



156 OLIVER TWIST. 

agreeable sense of his own merits and import- 
ance. 

Of the two ladies, one was well advanced in 
years, but the high-backed oaken chair in which 
she sat was not more upright than she. Dressed 
with the utmost nicety and precision, in a 
quaint mixture of bygone costume with some 
slight concessions to the prevailing taste, which 
rather served to point the old style pleasantly 
than to impair its effect, she sat in a stately 
manner with her hands folded on the table 
before her, and her eyes, of which age had 
dimmed but little of their brightness, atten- 
tively fixed upon her young companion. 

The younger lady was in the lovely bloom 
and spring-time of womanhood; at that age 
when, if ever angels be for God's good pur- 
poses enthroned in mortal forms, they may 
be without impiety supposed to abide in such 
as hers. 

She was not past seventeen. Cast in so 
slight and exquisite a mould ; so mild and gen- 
tle," so pure and beautiful, that earth seemed 
not her element, nor its rough creatures her fit 



OLIVER TWIST. 157 

companions. The very intelligence that shone 
in her deep blue eye and was stamped upon her 
noble head, seemed scarcely of her age or of 
the world, and yet the changing expression of 
sweetness and goodhumour, the thousand lights 
that played about the face and left no shadow 
there -, above all, the smile — the cheerful happy 
smile — were intwined with the best sympathies 
and affections of our nature. 

She was busily engaged in the little offices of 
the table, and chancing to raise her eyes as the 
elder lady was regarding her, playfully put back 
her hair, which was simply braided on her fore- 
head, and threw into one beaming look such a 
gush of affection and artless loveliness, that 
blessed spirits might have smiled to look upon 
her. 

The elder lady smiled ; but her heart was 
full, and slie brushed away a tear as she 
did so. 

*^ And Brittles has been gone upwards of an 
hour, has he }" asked the old lady after a 
pause. 

'^ An hour and twelve minutes^ ma'am," re- 



158 OLIVER TWIST. 

plied Mr. Giles, referring to a silver watch 
which he drew forth by a black ribbon. 

" He is always slow/' remarked the old 
lady, 

^^ Brittles always was a slow boy^ ma'am," 
replied the attendant. And seeing, by-the-by, 
that Brittles had been a slow boy for upwards 
of thirty years, there appeared no great pro- 
bability of his ever being a fast one. 

" He gets worse instead of better, I think," 
said the elder lady. 

"It is very inexcusable in him if he stops 
to play with any other boys," said the young 
lady smiling. 

Mr. Giles was apparently considering the 
propriety of indulging in a respectful smile 
himself, when a gig drove up to the garden- 
gate, out of which there jumped a fat gentle- 
man, who ran straight up to the door, and 
getting quickly into the house by some mys- 
terious process, burst into the room, and nearly 
overturned Mr. Giles and the breakfast-table 
together. 

" I never heard of such a thing !" exclaimed 



OLIVER TWIST. 159 

the fat gentleman. ^^ My dear Mrs. Maylie — 
bless my soul — in the silence of night too — I 
never heard of such a thing !'^ 

With these expressions of condolence^ the 
fat gentleman shook hands with both ladies, and 
drawing up a chair, inquired how they found 
themselves. 

^^ You ought to be dead — positively dead with 
the fright/^ said the fat gentleman. ^^Why 
didn^t you send ? Bless me, my man should 
have come in a minute, and so would I, and 
my assistant would have been delighted, or 
any body I^m sure, under such circumstances ; 
dear, dear — so unexpected — in the silence of 
night too !" 

The doctor seemed especially troubled by the 
fact of the robbery having been unexpected, 
and attempted in the night-time, as if it were 
the established custom of gentlemen in the 
housebreaking way to transact business at 
noon, and to make an appointment by the 
twopenny post a day or two previous. 

"And you. Miss Rose,^' said the doctor, 
turning to the young lady, " I " 



160 OLIVER TWIST. 

" Oh ! very much so, indeed/^ said Rose, in- 
terrupting him ; ^' but there is a poor creature 
up stairs whom aunt wishes you to see/' 

"Ah! to be sure^," rephed the doctor^ "so 
there is. That was your handiwork, Giles, I 
understand.^^ 

Mr. Giles, who had been feverishly putting 
the tea-cups to rights, blushed very red, and 
said tliat lie had had that honour. 

"Honour, eh?^^ said the doctor; "well, I 
don^tknow; perhaps it^s as honourable to hit a 
thief in a back kitchen, as to hit your man at 
twelve paces. Fancy that he fired in the air, 
and you've fought a duel, Giles." 

Mr. Giles, who thought this light treatment 
of the matter an unjust attempt at diminishing 
his glory, answered respectfully, that it was 
not for the like of him to judge about that, but 
he rather thought it was no joke to the opposite 
party. 

" 'Gad, that's true !" said the doctor. " Where 
is he ? Show me the way. I'll look in again as 
I come down, Mrs. Mayhe. That's the little 
window that he got in at, eh ? Well, I couldn't 



OLIVER TWIST. 161 

have believed it.'^ Talking all the way^ he fol- 
lowed Mr. Giles up stairs ; and while he is go- 
ing up stairs^ the reader may be informed that 
Mr. Losberne^ a surgeon in the neighbourhood^ 
known through a circuit of ten miles round as 
'^ the doctor/^ had grown fat more from good- 
humour than from good living, and was as kind 
and hearty, and withal as eccentric an old ba- 
chelor, as will be found in five times that space 
by any explorer alive. 

The doctor was absent much longer than 
either he or the ladies had anticipated. A large 
fiat box was fetched out of the gig, and a bed- 
room bell was rung very often, and the servants 
ran up and down stairs perpetually ; from which 
tokens it was justly concluded that something 
important was going on above. At length he 
returned ; and in reply to an anxious inquiry 
after his patient, looked very mysterious, and 
closed the door carefully. 

^^This is a very extraordinary thing, Mrs, 
Maylie," said the doctor, standing with his 
back to the door as if to keep it shut. 

VOL. II. M 



162 OLIVER TWIST. 

" He is not in danger, I hope ?'^ said the old 
lady. 

'^ Why, that would not be an extraordinary 
thing, under the circumstances," replied the 
doctor, " though I don't think he is. Have you 
seen this thief ?" 

^^ No,'^ rejoined the old lady. 

^' Nor heard any thing about him ?'^ 

«No.^^ 

^^ I beg your pardon, ma^am,'^ interposed Mr 
Giles ; ^^ but T was going to tell you about him 
when Doctor Losberne came in." 

The fact was, that Mr. Giles had not at first 
been able to bring his mind to the avowal that 
he had only shot a boy. Such commendations 
had been bestowed upon his bravery, that he 
could not for the life of him help postponing 
the explanation for a few delicious minutes, 
during which he had flourished in the very 
zenith of a brief reputation for undaunted 
courage. 

^^Rose wished to see the man," said Mrs, 
Maylie, " but I wouldn't hear of it." 



OLIVER TWIST. 



163 



"Humph!" rejoined the doctor. "There's 
nothing very alarming in his appearance. Have 
you any objection to see him in my presence?^* 

" If it be necessary/' rephed the old lady, 
" certainly not.^' 

"Then I think it is necessary/^ said the 
doctor ; " at all events I am quite sure that you 
would deeply regret not having done so^ if you 
postponed it. He is perfectly quiet and com- 
fortable now. Allow me — Miss Rose^ will you 
permit me ? Not the slightest fear^ I pledge you 
my honour." 

With many more loquacious assurances that 
they v/ould be agreeably surprised in the aspect 
of the criminal^ the doctor drew the young 
lady's arm through one of his^ and offering his 
disengaged hand to Mrs. Maylie^, led them with 
much ceremony and stateliness up stairs. 

^' Now/^ said the doctor in a whisper^ as he 
softly turned the handle of a bedroom-door, 
" let us hear what you think of him. He has 
not been shaved very recently, but he doesn't 
look at all ferocious notwithstanding. Stop, 
M 2 



t6i OLIVER TWIST. 

though — let me see that he is in visiting order 
iirst.^^ 

Stepping before them, he looked into the 
room, and motioning them to advance, closed 
the door when they had entered, and gently 
drew back the curtains of the bed. Upon it, in 
lieu of the dogged, black-visaged ruffian they 
had expected to behold, there lay a mere child, 
worn with pain and exhaustion, and sunk into 
a deep sleep. His wounded arm, bound and 
splintered up, was crossed upon his breast, and 
his head reclined upon the other, which was 
half hidden by his long hair as it streamed over 
the pillow. 

The honest gentleman held the curtain in his 
hand, and looked on for a minute or so, in 
silence. Whilst he was watching the patient 
thus, the younger lady glided softly past, and 
seating herself in a chair by the bedside ga- 
thered Oliver's hair from his face, and as she 
stooped over him her tears fell upon his fore- 
head. 

The boy stirred and smiled in his slee]), as 



OLlVEPx, TWIST. 165 

though these marks of pity and compassion had 
awakened some pleasant dream of a love and 
affection he had never known ; as a strain of 
gentle music^ or the rippling of water in a silent 
place^ or the odour of a flower^ or even the 
mention of a familiar word^ will sometimes call 
up sudden dim remembrances of scenes that 
never were, in this life, which vanish like a 
breath, and which some brief memory of a 
happier existence long gone by, would seem 
to have awakened, for no power of the human 
mind can ever recal them. 

'^ What can this mean V' exclaimed the elder 

lady. ^' This poor child can never have been 

the pupil of robbers 1" 

^'^Vice," sighed the surgeon, replacing the 

curtain, '^ takes up her abode in many temples, 

and who can say that a fair outside shall not 

enshrine her ?" 

^^ But at so early an age !" urged Rose. 

" My dear young lady,^^ rejoined the surgeon, 

mournfully shaking his head, " crime, like death, 

is not confined to the old and withered alone. 



166 OLIVER TWIST. 

The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen 
victims/^ 

*^ But^ can you — oh, sir ! can you, really be- 
lieve that this delicate boy has been the volun- 
tary associate of the worst outcasts of society ?^^ 
said Rose anxiously. 

The surgeon shook his head in a manner 
which intimated that he feared it was very pos- 
sible; and observing that they might disturb 
the patient, led the way into an adjoining apart- 
ment. 

^^ But even if he has been wicked," pursued 
Hose, " think how young he is ; think that he 
may never have known a mother's love, or even 
the comfort of a home, and that ill-usage and 
blows, or the want of bread, may have driven 
him to herd with the men who have forced him 
to guilt. Aunt, dear aunt, for mercy's sake 
think of this before you let them drag this sick 
child to a prison, which in any case must be 
the grave of all his chances of amendment. Oh ! 
as you love me, and know that I have never felt 
the want of parents in your goodness and afFec- 



OLIVER TWIST. 167 

tion^ but that I might have done so^ and might 
have been equally helpless and unprotected 
with this poor child^ have pity upon him before 
it is too late/^ 

'^ My dear love V^ said the elder lady, as she 
folded the weeping girl to her bosom ; ^' do you 
think I would harm a hair of his head ?" 

" Oh, no V^ replied Rose, eagerly, " not you, 
aunt, not you !^^ 

"No,^^ said the old lady with a trembling 
lip ; ^' my days are drawing to their close, and 
may mercy be shown to me as I show it to 
others. What can I do to save him, sir?" 

" Let me think, ma'am,^^ said the doctor, 
"let me think/' 

Mr. Losberne thrust his hands into his 
pockets and took several turns up and down 
the room, often stopping and balancing himself 
on his toes, and frowning frightfully. After 
various exclamations of " I've got it now," and 
" no, I haven't," and as many renewals of the 
walking and frowning, he at length made a dead 
halt, and spoke as follows : 

" I think if you give me a full and unlimited 



168 OLIVER TWIST. 

commission to bully Giles and that little boy, 
Brittles, I can manage it. He is a faithful fel- 
low and an old servant, I know ; but you can 
make it up to him in a thousand ways, and re- 
ward him for being such a good shot besides. 
You don't object to that?" 

^^ Unless there is some other way of preserving 
the child/^ replied Mrs. Maybe. 

" There is no other/' said the doctor. ^^ No 
other, take my word for it.'' 

"Then aunt invests you with full power/' 
said Rose, smiling through her tears ; " but 
pray don't be harder upon the poor fellows than 
is indispensably necessary." 

'^ You seem to think/' retorted the doctor, 
" that every body is disposed to be hard-hearted 
to-day except yourself. I only hope, for the 
sake of the rising male sex generally, that you 
may be found in as vulnerable and soft-hearted 
a mood by the very first ehgible young fellow 
who appeals to your compassion ; and I wish I 
were a young fellow that I might avail myself 
on the spot of such a favourable opportunity 
for doing so, as the present." 



OLIVER TWIST. ICSt 

^^You are as great a boy as poor Brittles 
himself/' returned Rose, blushing. 

*^Well/^ said the doctor, laughing heartily, 
" that is no very difficult matter. But to return 
to this boy : the great point of our agreement is 
yet to come. He will wake in an hour or so, 
I dare say ; and although I have told that thick- 
headed constable-fellow down stairs that he 
mustn't be moved or spoken to, on peril of his 
life, I think we may converse with him without 
danger. Now, I make this stipulation — that I 
shall examine him in your presence, and that if 
from what he says, we judge, and I can show to 
the satisfaction of your cool reason, that he is a 
real and thorough bad one (which is more than 
possible), he shall be left to his fate, without any 
further interference on my part, at all events.'^ 

^^ Oh no, aunt \" entreated Rose. 

" Oh yes, aunt V said the doctor. " Is it a 
bargain V 

" He cannot be hardened in vice,^^ said Rose ; 
^^it is impossible.^' 

^^ Very good/' retorted the doctor ; " then so 



170 OLIVER TWIST. 

much the more reason for acceding to my pro- 
position/^ 

Finally the treaty was entered into, and the 
parties thereto sat down to wait with some im- 
patience until Oliver should awahe. 

The patience of the two ladies was destined 
to undergo a longer trial than Mr. Losberne 
had led them to expect, for hour after hour 
passed on, and still Oliver slumbered heavily. 
It was evening, indeed, before the kind-hearted 
doctor brought them the intelligence that he 
had at length roused sufficiently to be spoken to. 
The boy v/as very ill, he said, and weak from 
the loss of blood ; but his mind was so troubled 
with anxiety to disclose something, that he 
deemed it better to give him the opportunity 
than to insist upon his remaining quiet until 
next morning, which he should otherwise have 
done. 

The conference was a long one, for Oliver 
told them all his simple history, and was often 
compelled to stop by pain and want of strength. 
It was a solemn thing to hear, in the darkened 



OLIVER TWIST. 171 

room, the feeble voice of the sick child recount- 
ing a weary catalogue of evils and calamities 
which hard men had brought upon him. Oh ! 
if, when we oppress and grind our fellow-crea- 
tures, we bestowed but one thought on the dark 
evidences of human error, which, like dense and 
heavy clouds are rising, slowly it is true, but 
not less surely, to Heaven, to pour their after- 
vengeance on our heads — if we heard but one 
instant in imagination the deep testimony of 
dead men^s voices, which no power can stifle 
and no pride shut out, where would be the 
injury and injustice, the suffering, misery, 
cruelty, and wrong, that each day^s life brings 
with it ! 

Oliver's pillow was smoothed by woman^s 
hands that night, and lovehness and virtue 
watched him as he slept. He felt calm and 
happy, and could have died without a 
murmur. 

The m-omentous interview was no sooner 
concluded, and Oliver composed to rest again, 
than the doctor, after wiping his eyes and con- 
demning them for being weak all at once. 



172 OLIVER TWIST. 

betook himself down stairs to open upon 
Mr, Giles. And finding nobody about the 
parlours, it occurred to him that he could 
perhaps originate the proceedings with better 
effect in the kitchen ; so, into the kitchen he 
went. 

There were assembled in that lower house of 
the domestic parliament, the women-servants, 
Mr. Brittles, Mr. Giles, the tinker (who had 
received a special invitation to regale himself 
for the remainder of the day in consideration of 
his services), and the constable. The latter 
gentleman had a large staff, a large head, large 
features, and large half-boots, and looked as if 
he had been taking a proportionate allowance of 
ale, as indeed he had. 

The adventures of the previous night were 
still under discussion, for Mr. Giles was expa- 
tiating upon his presence of mind when the 
doctor entered ; and Mr. Brittles, with a mug 
of ale in his hand, was corroborating every thing 
before his superior said it. 

'^Sit stiiy^ said the doctor, weaving his 
hand. 



OLIVER TWIST. 173 

^^ Thank you, sir/^ said Mr. Giles. " Misses 
wished some ale to be given out, sir, and as I 
felt noways inclined for my own little room, sir, 
and disposed for company, I am taking mine 
among 'em here.^^ 

Brittles headed a low murmur by which the 
ladies and gentlemen generally, were understood 
to express the gratification they derived from 
Mr. Giles's condescension ; and Mr. Giles 
looked round with a patronising air, as much 
as to say that so long as they behaved properly, 
he would never desert them. 

'^ How is the patient to-night, sir V asked 
Giles. 

^^ So-so ;" returned the doctor. " I am afraid 
you have got yourself into a scrape there, Mr. 
Giles/^ 

" I hope you don't mean to say, sir,'' said 
Mr. Giles, trembling, " that he's going to die. 
If I thought it, I should never be happy again. 
I wouldn't cut a boy off, no, not even Brittles 
here, not for all the plate in the country, sir." 
' ^^ That's not the point," said the doctor. 



174 OLIVER TWIST. 

mysteriously. " Mr. Giles, are you a Protest- 
ant?^^ 

"Yes^ sir^, I hope so;" faltered Mr. Giles, 
who had turned very pale. 

^^ And what are you^, boy V' said the doctor, 
turning shai-ply upon Brittles. 

" Lord bless me, sir !^' replied Brittles, start* 
ing violently; ^^I'm the same as Mr. Giles, 
sir/^ 

^^ Then tell me this/^ said the doctor, fiercely, 
^^both of you — both of you; are you going to 
take upon yourselves to swear that that boy up 
stairs is the boy that was put through the little 
window last night ? Out with it! Come; we 
are prepared for you.^^ 

The doctor, who was universally considered 
one of the best-tempered creatures on earthy 
made this demand in such a dreadful tone of 
anger, that Giles and Brittles, who were consi- 
derably muddled by ale and excitement, stared 
at each other in a state of stupefaction. 

"Pay attention to the reply, constable, will 
you V said the doctor, shaking his forefinger 



OLIVER TWIST, 175 

with great solemnity of manner, and tapping 
the bridge of his nose with it, to bespeak the 
exercise of that worthy's utmost acuteness. 
^' Something may come of this before long/* 

The constable looked as wise as he could, 
^nd took up his staff of office which had been 
reclining indolently in the chimney-corner. 

^^ It's a simple question of identity, you will 
observe," said the doctor. 

" That's what it is, sir," replied the constable, 
coughing with great violence; for he had 
finished his ale in a hurry, and some of it had 
gone the wrong way. 

^^ Here's a house broken into," said the doc- 
tor, " and a couple of men catch one moment's 
glimpse of a boy in the midst of gunpowder- 
smoke, and in all the distraction of alarm and 
darkness. Here's a boy comes to that very 
same house next morning, and because he hap- 
pens to have his arm tied up, these men lay 
violent hands upon him — by doing which, they 
place his life in great danger — and swear he is 
the thief. Now, the question is, whether these 



176 OLIVER TWIST. 

men are justified by the fact, and if not, what 
situation do they place themselves in ?^' 

The constable nodded profoundly, and said 
that if that wasn^t law, he should be glad to 
know what was. 

" I ask you again,^^ thundered the doctor, 
" are you on your solemn oaths able to identify 
that boy ?' 

Brittles looked doubtfully at Mr. Giles, Mr. 
Giles looked doubtfully at Brittles; the con- 
stable put his hand behind his ear to catch the 
reply ; the two women and the tinker leant for- 
ward to listen ; and the doctor glanced keenly 
round, when a ring was heard at the gate, and 
at the same moment the sound of wheels. 

" It's the runners !" cried Brittles, to all 
appearance much relieved. 

"The what!'' exclaimed the doctor, aghast 
in his turn. 

"The Bow-street officers, sir,^' replied Brit- 
tles, taking up a candle, "me and Mr. Giles 
sent for 'em this morning." 

" What !" cried the doctor. 



OLIVER TWIST. 177 

^^Yes/^ replied Brittles, "I sent a message 
up by the coachman^ and I only wonder they 
weren^t here before^ sir/^ 

^' You did^ did you ? Then confound your 

slow coaches down here ; that's all/' said 

the doctor, walking away. 



VOL. 11. N 



178 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

INVOLVES A CRITICAL POSITION. 

" Who's that ?" inquired Brittles, opening 
the door a little way with the chain up, and 
peeping out, shading the candle with his 
hand. 

" Open the door/' replied a man outside : 
" it's the officers from Bow-street as was sent 
to, to-day." 

Much comforted by this assurance, Brittles 
opened the door to its full width, and con- 
fronted a portly man in a great-coat who 
walked in without saying any thing more, and 
wiped his shoes on the mat as coolly as if he 
lived there. 

" Just send somebody out to relieve my 
mate, will you, young man ?" said the officer : 
" he's in the gig minding the prad. Have you 



OLIVER TWIST. 179 

got a coach *us here that you could put it up m 
for five or ten minutes ?" 

Brittles replying in the affirmative, and 
pointing out the building, the portly man 
stepped back to the garden-gate, and helped 
his companion to put up the gig, while Brittles 
lighted them, in a state of great admiration. 
This done, they returned to the house, and, 
being shown into a parlour, took off their great- 
coats and hats, and showed like what they were. 
The man who had knocked at the door was a 
stout personage of middle height, aged about 
fiftyj with shiny black hair cropped pretty 
close, half-whiskers, a round face, and sharp 
eyes. The other was a red-headed bony man 
in top-boots, with a rather ill-favoured coun- 
tenance, and a turned-up sinister-looking nose. 

^^ Tell yoar governor that Blathers and Duff 
is here, will you?'^ said the stouter man, 
smoothing down his hair, and laying a pair of 
handcuffs on the table. '^ Oh I Good evening, 
master. Can I have a word or two with you in 
private, if you please r^^ 

. This was addressed to Mr. Losberne, who 
N 2 



180 OLIVER TWIST. 

now made his appearance ; that gentleman, 
motioning Brittles to retire, brought in the two 
ladies and shut the door. 

" This is the lady of the house/' said Mr. 
Losberne, motioning towards Mrs. Maylie. 

Mr. Blathers made a bow, and being desired 
to sit down, put his hat upon the floor, and, 
taking a chair, motioned DufF to do the same. 
The latter gentleman, who did not appear quite 
so much accustomed to good society or quite 
so much at his ease in it, one of the two, seated 
himself after undergoing several muscular 
affections of the limbs, and forced the head of 
his stick into his mouth with some embarrass- 
ment. 

" Now, with regard to this here robbery, 
master,'^ said Blathers. " What are the circum- 
stances ?" 

Mr. Losberne, who appeared desirous of 
gaining time, recounted them at great length 
and with much circumlocution : Messrs. Bla- 
thers and DufF looking very knowing meanwhile, 
and occasionally exchanging a nod. 

^^ I can't say for certain till I see the place. 



OLIVER TWIST. 181 

of course/' said Blathers ; " but my opinion at 
once is^ — I don't mind committing myself to 
that extent, — that this wasn't done by a yokel 
—eh, DufF?" 

^^ Certainly not/' replied DufF. 

^^ And, translating the word yokel, for the 
benefit of the ladies, I apprehend your mean- 
ing to be that this attempt was not made 
by a countryman ?" said Mr. Losberne with a 
smile. 

'' That's it, master," repUed Blathers. "This 
is all about the robbery, is it r" 

" All," replied the doctor. 

" Now, what is this about this here boy 
that the servants are talking of?" said Bla- 
thers. 

" Nothing at all/' replied the doctor. " One 
of the frightened servants chose to take it into 
his head that he had something to do with this 
attempt to break into the house ; but it's non- 
sense — sheer absurdity." 

" Wery easy disposed of it is," remarked 
Duflf. 

"What he says is quite correct," observed 



182 OLIVER TWIST. 

Blathers, nodding his head in a confirmatory- 
way, and playing carelessly with the handcuffs, 
as if they were a pair of castanets. ^^ Who 
is the boy? What account does he give of 
himself? Where did he come from? He 
didn't drop out of the clouds, did he, master ?'' 

" Of course not,'' replied the doctor with a 
nervous glance at the two ladies. '^ I know 
his whole history ; — but we can talk about that 
presently. You would like to see the place 
where the thieves made their attempt, first, I 
suppose ?" 

"Certainly," rejoined Mr. Blathers. "We 
had better inspect the premises first, and ex- 
amine the servants arter wards. That's the usual 
way of doing business." 

Lights were then procured, and Messrs. Bla- 
thers and Duff, attended by the native con- 
stable, Brittles, Giles, and every body else in 
short, went into the little room at the end of 
the passage and looked out at the window, and 
afterwards went round by way of the lawn and 
looked in at the window, and after that had a 
candle handed out to inspect the shutter with,and 



OLIVER TWIST. 183 

after that a lantern to trace the footsteps with, 
and after that a pitchfork to poke the bushes 
with. This done amidst the breathless interest 
of all beholders, they came in again, and Mr. 
Giles and Brittles were put through a melodra- 
matic representation of their share in the pre- 
vious night's adventures, which they performed 
some six times over, contradicting each other 
in not more than one important respect the first 
time, and in not more than a dozen the last. 
This consummation being arrived at. Blathers 
and Duff cleared the room, and held a long- 
council together, compared with v/hich, for 
secrecy and solemnity, a consultation of great 
doctors on the knottiest point in medicine would 
be mere child's play. 

Meanwhile, the doctor walked up and down 
the next room in a very uneasy state, and Mrs. 
Maylie and Rose looked on with anxio\is 
faces. 

" Upon my word," he said, making a halt 
after a great number of very rapid turns, " I 
hardly know what to do." 

^^ Surely,'' said Rose, " the poor child's story 



184 OLIVER TWIST. 

faithfully repeated to these men, will be suffi- 
cient to exonerate him/' 

^' I doubt it, my dear young lady/' said the 
doctor, shaking his head. "I don't think it 
would exonerate him, either with them or with 
legal functionaries of a higher grade. What 
is he, after all, they would say? — a runaway. 
Judged by mere world considerations and 
probabilities, his story is a very doubtful one." 

" You credit it, surely ?" interrupted Rose 
in haste. 

^^ I believe it, strange as it is, and perhaps 
may be an old fool for doing so," rejoined 
the doctor : ^^ but I don't think it is exactly 
the tale for a practised police-officer, neverthe- 
less." 

ii Why not ?" demanded Rose. 

^^ Because, my pretty cross-examiner," re- 
plied the doctor, "because, viewed with their 
eyes, there are so many ugly points about it ; 
he can only prove the parts that look bad, and 
none of those that look well. Confound the 
fellows, they will have the why and the where- 
fore, and take nothing for granted. On his 



OLIVER TWIST. 185 

own showing, you see he has been the compa- 
nion of thieves for some time past; he has been 
carried to a poHce-office on a charge of picking 
a gentleman's pocket, and is taken away forcibly 
from that gentleman^s house to a place which 
he cannot describe or point out, and of the 
situation of which he has not the remotest 
idea. He is brought down to Chertsey by men 
who seem to have taken a violent fancy to him, 
whether he will or no, and put through a win- 
dow to rob a house, and then, just at the very 
moment when he is going to alarm the inmates, 
and so do the very thing that would set him all 
to rights, there rushes into the way that blun- 
dering dog of a half-bred butler, and shoots 
him, as if on purpose to prevent his doing 
any good for himself. Don^t you see all this?" 

^^ I see it, of course," replied Rose, smiling 
at the doctor^s impetuosity; "but still I do 
not see any thing in it to criminate the poor 
child." 

" No," replied the doctor ; ^^ of course not ! 
Bless the bright eyes of your sex ! They never 
see, whether for good or bad, more than one 



186 OLIVER TWIST. 

side of any question, and that is, invariably, 
the one which first presents itself to them/' 

Having given vent to this result of expe- 
rience, the doctor put his hands into his pockets, 
and walked up and down the room with even 
greater rapidity than before. 

" The more I think of it,'' said the doctor, 
^^the more I see that it will occasion endless 
trouble and difficulty to put these men into pos- 
session of the boy's real story. I am certain it 
will not be believed ; and even if they can do 
nothing to him in the end, still the dragging it 
forward, and giving publicity to all the doubts 
that will be cast upon it, must interfere ma- 
terially with your benevolent plan of rescuing 
him from miserv." 

" Oh ! what is to be done ?" cried Rose. 
" Dear, dear ! why did they send for these 
people ?" 

" Why, indeed !" exclaimed Mrs. Maylie. " I 
would not have had them here for the world." 

^' All I know is," said Mr. Losberne at last^ 
sitting down with a kind of desperate calmness, 
'^ that we must try and carry it oflf with a bold 



OLIVER TWIST. 187 

face^ that's all. The object is a good one, and 
that must be the excuse. The boy has strong 
symptoms of fever upon him, and is in no 
condition to be talked to any more ; thaf s one 
comfort. We must make the best of it we can ; 
and if bad is the best, it is no fault of ours. — 
Come in.^^ 

" Well, master," said Blathers, entering the 
room, followed by his colleague, and making 
the door fast before he said any more. " This 
warn^t a put-up thing.'^ 

^^And what the devil's a put-up thing?'' de- 
manded the doctor impatiently. 

" We call it a put-up robbery, ladies,^' said 
Blathers, turning to them, as if he compassioned 
their ignorance, but had a contempt for the 
doctor's, " when the servants is in it.'' 

" Nobody suspected them in this case," said 
Mrs. Maylie. 

" Wery likely not, ma'am," replied Blathers, 
^^ but they might have been in it, for all that." 

" More likely on that wery account," said 
Duff. 

" We find it was a town hand," said Blathers, 



188 OLIVER TWIST. 

continuing his report ; ^^ for the style of work is 
first-rate.'^ 

'^ Wery pretty indeed, it is/' remarked Duff 
in an under tone. 

"There was two of 'em in it/' continued 
Blathers, '^ and they had a boy with 'em ; that's 
plain from the size of the window. That's all 
to be said at present. We'll see this lad that 
youVe got up stairs at once, if you please." 

" Perhaps they will take something to drink 
first, Mrs. Maylie ?" said the doctor, his face 
brightening up as if some new thought had 
occurred to him. 

" Oh ! To be sure !" exclaimed Rose eagerly, 
" You shall have it immediately, if you will." 

^^ Why, thank you miss !" said Blathers, 
drawing his coat-sleeve across his mouth : " it's 
dry work this sort of duty. Any thing that's 
handy, miss ; don't put yourself out of the way 
on our accounts." 

" What shall it be ?" asked the doctor, fol- 
lowing the young lady to the sideboard. 

^^ A little drop of spirits, master, if it's all the 
same,'^ replied Blathers. It's a cold ride from 



OLIVER TWIST. 189 

London, ma'am, and I always find that spirits 
comes home warmer to the feelings." 

This interesting communication was addressed 
to Mrs. Maylie, who received it very graciously. 
While it was being conveyed to her, the doctor 
slipped out of the room. 

" Ah I" said Mr. Blathers, not holding his 
wine-glass by the stem, but grasping the bottom 
between the thumb and forefinger of his left 
hand, and placing it in front of his chest. ^^ I 
have seen a good many pieces of business like 
this in my time, ladies.^' 

" That crack down in the back lane at Ed- 
monton, Blathers,^' said Mr. Dufi^, assisting his 
colleague's memory. 

" That was something in this way, warn't 
it?" rejoined Mr. Blathers; ^^that was done by 
Conkey Chickweed, that was." 

^^You always gave that to him," replied 
DufF. " It was the Family Pet, I tell you, and 
Conkey hadn't any more to do with it than I 
had." 

" Get out !" retorted Mr. Blathers : " I know 
better. Do you mind that time Conkey was 



190 OLIVER TWIST. 

robbed of his money^ though ? What a start 
that was ! better than any novel-book I ever 
see !" 

^^What was that?" inquired Rose, anxious 
to encourage any symptoms of goodhumour in 
the unwelcome visiters. 

^^ It was a robbery, miss, that hardly any 
body would liave been down upon," said Bla- 
thers. " This here Conkey Chickweed " 

^^ Conkey means Nosey, ma^am," interposed 
Duff. 

" Of course the lady knows that, don'^t she ?'* 
demanded Mr. Blathers. "Always interrupt- 
ing you are, partner. This here Conkey Chick- 
weed, miss, kept a public-house over Battle- 
bridge way, and had a cellar where a good many 
young lords went to see cockfighting, and 
badger-drawing, and that; and a wery intel- 
lectual manner the sports was conducted in, 
for Vyq seen ^em ofF'en. He warn^t one of the 
family at that time, and one night he was 
robbed of three hundred and twenty-seven 
guineas in a canvass bag, that was stole out of 
his bedroom in the dead of night by a tall man 



OLIVER TWIST. 191 

with a black patch over his eye, who had con- 
cealed himself under the bed, and, after com- 
mitting the robbery, jumped slap out of window, 
which was only a story high. He was wery 
quick about it. But Conkey was quick, too, for 
he was woke by the noise, and, darting out of 
bed, fired a blunderbuss arter him, and roused 
the neighbourhood. They set up a hue-and-cry 
directly, and, when they came to look about 
'em, found that Conkey had hit the robber ; 
for there was traces of blood all the way to 
some palings a good distance off, and there they 
lost 'em. However, he had made off with the 
blunt, and, consequently, the name of Mr. Chick- 
weed, licensed witler, appeared in the Gazette 
among the other bankrupts ; and all manner of 
benefits and subscriptions, and I don't know 
what all, was got up for the poor man, who was 
in a wery low state of mind about his loss, and 
went up and down the streets for three or four 
days, pulling his hair off in such a desperate 
manner that many people was afraid he might 
be going to make away with himself. One day 
he come up to the office all in a hurry, and had 



192 OLIVER TWIST. 

a private interview with the magistrate, who, 
after a good deal of talk, rings the bell, and 
orders Jem Spyers in (Jem was a active officer), 
and tells him to go and assist Mr. Chickweed in 
apprehending the man as robbed his house. 
^ I see him, Spyers,^ said Chickweed, ^ pass my 
house yesterday morning/ — ^ Why didn't you 
up, and coUar him ?' says Spyers. — ^ I was so 
struck all of a heap that you might have frac- 
tured my skull with a toothpick,^ says the poor 
man ; ^ but we're sure to have him, for between 
ten and eleven o'clock at night he passed again.^ 
Spyers no sooner heard this, than he put some 
clean linen and a comb in his pocket, in case he 
should have to stop a day or two ; and away he 
goes, and sets himself down at one of the public- 
house windows behind a little red curtain, with 
his hat on, all ready to bolt at a moment's 
notice. He was smoking his pipe here late at 
night, when all of a sudden Chickweed roars 
out — ' Here he is ! Stop thief ! Murder !' Jem 
Spyers dashes out ; and there he sees Chick- 
weed tearing down the street full-cry. Away 
goes Spyers ; on keeps Chickweed ; round turns 



OLIVER TWIST. 193 

the people ; every body roars out ^ Thieves !' 
and Chickweed himself keeps on shouting all 
the time like mad. Spyers loses sight of him 
a minute as he turns a corner — shoots round — 
sees a little crowd — dives in. ^ Which is the 
man V — ' D — me !^ says Chickweed, ^ Pve lost 
him again \' 

'^It was a remarkable occurrence, but he 
warn't to be seen nowhere, so they went back 
to the pubhc-house, and next morning Spyers 
took his old place, and looked out from behind 
the curtain for a tall man with a black patch 
over his eye, till his own two eyes ached again. At 
last he couldn^t help shutting ^em to ease ^em a 
minute, and the very moment he did so, he 
hears Chickweed roaring out, ' Here he is T Off he 
starts once more, with Chickweed half-way down 
the street ahead of him ; and after twice as long 
a run as the yesterday's one, the man^s lost 
again ! This was done once or twice more, till 
one half the neighbours gave out that Mr. 
Chickweed had been robbed by the devil, who 
was playing tricks with him arterwards, and the 

VOL. II. o 



194 OLIVER TWIST. 

other half, that poor Mr. Chickweed had gone 
mad with grief.^' 

^'^What did Jem Spyers say?" inquired the 
doctor, who had returned to the room shortly 
after the commencement of the story. 

^^ Jem Spyers/^ resumed the officer, ^^ for a 
long time said nothing at all, and listened to 
every thing without seeming to, which showed 
he understood his business. But one morning 
he walked into the bar, and, taking out his 
snuff-box, said, ^ Chickweed, Pve found out 
who's done this here robbery.' — ^ Have you V 
said Chickweed. ^ Oh, my dear Spyers, only 
let me have wengeance, and I shall die con- 
tented ! Oh, my dear Spyers, where is the vil- 
lain?'' — ^ Come !^ said Spyers, offering him a 
pinch of snuff, ' none of that gammon ! You 
did it yourself.' So he had, and a good bit of 
money he had made by it, too; and nobody 
would ever have found it out if he hadn't been 
so precious anxious to keep up appearances, 
that's more !"" said Mr. Blathers, putting down 
his wdne-glass, and clinking the handcuffs to- 
gether. « 



OLIVER TWIST. 195 

" Very curious^ indeed/' observed the doc- 
tor. ^^ 'Now, if you please^ you can walk up 
stairs.^' 

'^ M you please, sir," returned Mr. Blathers. 
And, closely following Mr. Losberne, the two 
officers ascended to Oliver's bedroom, Mr. Giles 
preceding the party with a lighted candle. 

Ohver had been dozing, but looked worse, 
and was more feverish than he had appeared 
yet. Being assisted by the doctor, he managed 
to sit up in bed for a minute or so, and looked 
at the strangers without at all understanding 
what was going forward, and, in fact, without 
seeming to recollect where he was, or what had 
been passing. 

" This," said Mr. Losberne, speakhig softly, 
but with great vehemence notwithstanding, 
^^ this is the lad, who, being accidentally 
wounded by a spring-gun in some boyish tres- 
pass on Mr. What-d^ye-call-him's grounds at 
the back here, comes to the house for assist- 
ance this morning, and is immediately laid hold 
of, and maltreated by that ingenious gentleman 
o 2 



196 OLIVER TWIST. 

with the candle in his hand^ who has placed his 
life in considerable danger, as I can profession- 
ally certify." 

Messrs. Blathers and Duff looked at Mr. 
Giles as he was thus recommended to their 
notice, and the bewildered butler gazed from 
them towards Oliver, and from Oliver towards 
Mr. Losberne, with a most ludicrous mixture 
of fear and perplexity. 

" You don't mean to deny that, I suppose ?" 
said the doctor, laying Oliver gently down 
again, 

" It was all done for the — for the best, 
sir !" answered Giles. " I am sure I thought 
it was the boy, or I wouldn't have meddled 
with him. I am not of an inhuman disposition, 
sir." 

^^ Thought it was what boy r' inquired the 
senior ofticer. 

'^ The housebreaker's boy, sir ! " replied 
Giles. ^* They — they certainly had a boy." 

'^ Well, do you think so now ?" inquired 
Blathers. 




Y^'Y' ^^^^i^mJ^ 



'/^^ f^^y--^^ ^^ , ' ^^;5^/ . 



y^^yp?.s^A 



OLIVER TWIST. 197 

^^ Think what^ now V replied Giles, looking 
vacantly at his questioner. 

^^ Think it's the same boy^ stupid-head?'' re- 
joined Mr. Blathers impatiently. 

" I don't know ; I really don't know/' said 
GileSj with a rueful countenance. ^^ I couldn't 
swear to him." 

'^ What do you think ?" asked Mr. Blathers. 

^^ I don't know what to think," replied poor 
Giles. ^^ I don^t think it is the boy; indeed 
I'm almost certain that it isn't. You know it 
can't be.'* 

'^ Has this man been a-drinking, sir V in- 
quired Blathers, turning to the doctor. 

^^ What a precious muddle-headed chap you 
are !" said DuiF, addressing Mr. Giles with 
supreme contempt. 

Mr. Losberne had been feeling the patient's 
pulse daring this short dialogue ; but he now 
rose from the chair by the bedside, and re- 
marked, that if the officers had any doubts 
upon the subject, they would perhaps like to 
step into the next room, and have Brittles be- 
fore them. 



198 OLIVER TWIST. 

Acting upon this suggestion^ they ad- 
journed to a neighbouring apartment^ where 
Mr. Brittles^ being called in, involved himself 
and his respected superior in such a wonderful 
maze of fresh contradictions and impossibilities 
as tended to throw no particular light upon any- 
thing save the fact of his own strong mystifica- 
tion ; except, indeed, his declarations that he 
shouldn^t know the real boy if he wxre put be- 
fore him that instant : that he had only taken 
Oliver to be he because Mr. Giles had said he 
was, and that Mr. Giles had five minutes pre- 
viously admitted in the kitchen that he began 
to be very much afraid he had been a little too 
hasty. 

Among other ingenious surmises, the ques- 
tion was then raised whether Mr. Giles had 
really hit any body, and vipon examination of 
the fellow pistol to that which he had fired, it 
turned out to have no more destructive loading 
than gunpowder and brown paper : — a discovery 
which made a considerable impression on 
every body but the doctor, who had drawn the 
ball about ten minutes before. Upon no one, 



OLIVER TWIST. 193 

however^ did it make a greater impression than 
on Mr. Giles himself^ who^ after labouring for 
some hours under the fear of having mortally 
wounded a fellow- creature^ eagerly caught at 
this new idea^ and favoured it to the utmost. 
Finally, the officers, without troubling them- 
selves very much about Oliver, left the Cliertsey 
constable in the house, and took up their rest 
for that night in the town, promising to return 
next morning. 

With the next morning there came a rumour 
that two men and a boy were in the cage at 
Kingston, who had been apprehended over- 
night under suspicious circumstances; and to 
Kingston Messrs. Blathers and Duff journeyed 
accordingly. The suspicious circumstances, 
however, resolving themselves, on investigation, 
into the one fact that they had been discovered 
sleeping under a haystack, which, although a 
great crime, is only punishable by imprison- 
ment, and is, in the merciful eye of the Eng- 
lish law, and its comprehensive love of all the 
King's subjects, held to be no satisfactory proof 



200 OLIVER TWIST. 

in the absence of all other evidence^ that the 
sleeper or sleepers have committed burglary 
accompanied with violence^ and have therefore 
rendered themselves liable to the punishment of 
death, — Messrs. Blathers and DufF came back 
again as wise as they went. 

In short, after some more examination, and a 
great deal more conversation, a neighbouring 
magistrate was readily induced to take the joint 
bail of Mrs. Maylie and Mr. Losberne for 
Oliver's appearance if he should ever be called 
upon ; and Blathers and Dulf, being rewarded 
with a couple of guineas, returned to towTi with 
divided opinions on the subject of their expedi- 
tion : the latter gentleman, on a mature consi- 
deration of all the circumstances, inclining to 
the belief that the burglarious attempt had ori- 
ginated with the Family Pet, and the former 
being equally disposed to concede the full merit 
of it to the great Mr. Conkey Chickweed. 

Meanwhile Oliver gradually throve and pro- 
spered under the united care of Mrs, Maylie, 
Rose, and the kind-hearted Mr. Losberne. If 



OLIVER TWIST. ^l 

fervent prayers gushing from hearts overcharged 
with gratitude be heard in heaven — and if they 
be not, what prayers are ? — the blessings which 
the orphan child called down upon them, sunk 
into their souls, diffusing peace and happiness. 



202 OLIVER TWIST, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

OF THE HAITY LIFE OLIVHl BEGAN TO LEAD WITH HIS 
KII^D FRIENDS. 

Oliver's ailings were neither slight nor few. 
In addition to the pain and delay attendant upon 
a broken limb^ his exposure to the wet and cold 
had brought on fever and ague, which hung 
about him for many weeks, and reduced him 
sadly. Bvit at length he began by slow degrees 
to get better, and to be able to say sometimes, 
in a few tearful words, how deeply he felt the 
goodness of the two sweet ladies, and how ar- 
dently he hoped that when he grew strong and 
well again he could do something to show his 
gratitude ; only something which would let 
them see the love and duty with which his 
breast was full; something, however slight, 
which would prove to them that their gentle 



OLIVER TWIST. 203 

kindness had not been cast away^ but that the 
poor boy^ v/hom their charity had rescued from 
misery or deaths was eager and anxious to serve 
them with all his heart and soul. 

^^ Poor fellow !" said Rose, when Oliver had 
been one day feebly endeavouring to utter the 
words of thankfulness that rose to his pale lips, 
— ^^you shall have many opportunities of serving 
us, if you will. We are going into the country, 
and my aunt intends that you shall accompany 
us. The quiet place, the pure air, and all the 
pleasures and beauties of spring, will restore you 
in a few days, and we will employ you in a hun- 
dred ways when you can bear the trouble.^^ 

"The trouble !'' cried Oliver. "Oh! dear 
lady, if I could but work for you — if I could 
only give you pleasure by watering your flowers, 
or watching your birds, or running up and down 
the whole day long to make you happy, what 
would I give to do it ?'^ 

" You shall give nothing at all,^^ said Miss 
May lie, smiling : " for, as I told you before, we 
shall employ you in a hundred ways ; and if you 
only take half the trouble to please us that you 



204 OLIVER TWIST. 

promise now, you will make me very happy 
indeed/' 

" Happy, ma'am ?^ cried Oliver ; ^^ oh, how 
kind of you to say so !" 

^^You will make me happier than I can tell 
you/' replied the young lady. ^^To think that 
my dear good aunt should have been the means 
of rescuing any one from such sad misery as you 
have described to us, would be an unspeakable 
pleasure to me; but to know that the object of 
her goodness and compassion was sincerely 
grateful and attached in consequence, would 
delight me more than you can well imagine. 
Do you understand me ?'' she inquired, watch- 
ing Oliver's thoughtful face. 

" Oh yes, ma'am, yes !" replied Oliver, 
eagerly; ^^but I was thinking that I am un- 
grateful now.**' 

" To whom ?" inquired the young lady. 

"To the kind gentleman and the dear old 
nurse who took so much care of me before," 
rejoined Oliver. " If they knew how happy I 
am, they would be pleased, I am sure." 

" I am sure they would," rejoined Oliver's 



OLIVER TWIST. 205 

benefactress ; ^^ and Mr. Losberne has already- 
been kind enough to promise that when you 
are well enough to bear the journey he will 
carry you to see them.^' 

"Has he, ma'am!" cried Oliver, his face 
brightening with pleasure. "I don't know 
what I shall do for joy when I see their kind 
faces once again !" 

In a short time Oliver was sufficiently reco- 
vered to undergo the fatigue of this expedition ; 
and one morning he and Mr. Losberne set out 
accordingly in a little carriage which belonged 
to Mrs. Maylie. When they came to Chertsey 
Bridge, Oliver turned very pale, and uttered a 
loud exclamation. 

"What's the matter with the boy!''* cried 
the doctor, as usual all in a bustle. " Do you 
see any thing — hear any thing — feel any thing 
~eh?" 

" That, sir," cried Oliver, pointing out of the 
carnage window. " That house !" 

" Yes ; well, what of it ? Stop, coachman. 
Pull up here," cried the doctor. " What of the 
house, my man — eh ?" 



206 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ The thieves — the house they took me to," 
M^hispered Oliver. 

"The devil it is !" cried the doctor. " Hal- 
loa, there ! let me out !" But before the 
coachman could dismount from his box he had 
tumbled out of the coach by some means or 
other, and, running down to the deserted tene- 
ment, began kicking at the door like a mad- 
man. 

" Halloa !" said a little ugly hump-backed 
man, opening the door so suddenly that the 
doctor, from the very impetus of his last kick, 
nearly fell forward into the passage. " What's 
the matter here !'' 

'' Matter l^"* exclaimed the other, collaring 
him without a moment's reflection. " A good 
deal. Robbery is the matter." 

" There'll be murder, too," replied the hump- 
backed man, coolly, '• if you don't take your 
hands off. Do you hear me ?" 

"I hear you," said the doctor, giving his 
captive a hearty shake. "Where's — confound 
the fellow, what's his rascally name — Sikes — 
that's it. Where's Sikes, you thief?" 



OLIVER TWIST. 207 

The hump-backed man stared as if in excess 
of amazement and indignation ; and^ twisting 
himself dexterously from the doctor's grasp, 
growled forth a volley of horrid oaths, and re- 
tired into the house. Before he could shut the 
door, however, the doctor had passed into the 
parlour without a word of parley. He looked 
anxiously round: not an article of furniture, 
not a vestige of any tiling, animate or inanimate, 
not even the position of the cupboards, answered 
Oliver's description I 

'^ Now," said the hump-backed man, who had 
watched him keenly, "what do you mean by 
coming into my house in this violent way ? Do 
you want to rob me, or to murder me ? — which 
is it?" 

"Did you ever know a man come out to do 
either in a chariot and pair, you ridiculous old 
vampire ?" said the irritable doctor. 

" What do you want, then V demanded the 
hunchback, fiercely. " Will you take yourself 
off before I do you a mischief? curse you !" 

" As soon as I think proper," said Mr. Los- 
berne, looking into the other parlour, which. 



208 OLIVER TWIST. 

like the firsts bore no resemblance whatever to 
OUver's account of it. *^ I shall find you out 
some day, my friend." 

*^ Will you ?" sneered the ill-favoured cripple. 
^^ If you ever want me, I'm here. I haven't 
lived here mad, and all alone, for five-and- 
twenty years, to be scared by you. You shall 
pay for this ; you shall pay for this."" And so 
saying, the mis-shapen little demon set up a 
hideous yell, and danced upon the ground as if 
frantic with rage. 

" Stupid enough, this," muttered the doctor 
to himself : " the boy must have made a mistake. 
There ; put that in your pocket, and shut your- 
self up again." With these words he flung the 
hunchback a piece of money, and returned to 
the carriage. 

The man followed to the chariot door, utter- 
ing the wildest imprecations and curses all the 
way ; but as Mr. Losberne turned to speak to 
the driver, he looked into the carriage, and 
eyed Oliver for an instant with a glance so sharp 
and fierce, and at the same time so furious and 
vindictive, that, waking or sleeping, he could 



OLIVER TWIST. 209 

not forget it for months afterwards. He con- 
tinued to utter the most fearful imprecations 
until the driver had resumed his seat^ and when 
they were once more on their way, they could 
see him some distance behind, beating his feet 
upon the ground, and tearing his hair in trans- 
ports of frenzied rage. 

^'^ I am an ass !" said the doctor, after a long 
silence. " Did you know that before, Oliver Y^ 
'' No, sir.'' 

" Then don't forget it another time." 
^' An ass," said the doctor again, after a fur- 
ther silence of some minutes. " Even if it had 
been the right place, and the right fellows had 
been there, what could I have done single- 
handed ? And if I had had assistance, I see no 
good that I should have done except leading 
to my own exposure, and an unavoidable state- 
ment of the manner in which I have hushed up 
this l)usiness. That would have served me 
right, though. I am always involving my- 
self in some scrape or other by acting upon 
these impulses, and it might have done me 
good." 

VOL. II. p 



210 OLIVER TWIST. 

Now the fact was, that the excellent doctor 
had never acted upon any thing else but impulse 
all through his life ; and it was no bad compli- 
ment to the nature of the impulses which 
governed him, that so far from being involved 
in any peculiar troubles or misfortunes, he had 
the warmest respect and esteem of all who knew 
him. If the truth must be told, he was a little 
out of temper for a minute or two at being dis- 
appointed in procuring corroborative evidence 
of Oliver's story on the very first occasion on 
which he had a chance of obtaining any. He 
soon came round again, however, and finding 
that Oliver's replies to his questions were still 
as straightforward and consistent, and still 
delivered with as much apparent sincerity and 
truth, as they had ever been, he made up his 
mind to attach full credence to them from that 
time forth. 

As Oliver knew the name of the street in 
which Mr. Brownlow resided, they were enabled 
to drive straight thither. When the coach 
turned into it, his heart beat so violently that 
he could scarcely draw his breath. 



OLIVER TWIST. 211 

^^ Now, my boy, which house is it ?' inquired 
Mr. Losberne. 

" That, that !" repHed Oliver, pointing eagerly 
out of the window. " The white house. Oh ! 
make haste ! Pray make haste ! I feel as if I 
should die : it makes me tremble so" 

'^ Come, come V said the good doctor, pat- 
ting him on the shoulder. " You will see them 
directly, and they will be overjoyed to find you 
safe and well.^' 

" Oh ! I hope so V cried Oliver. " They were 
so good to me ; so very very good to me, sir.^' 

The coach rolled on. It stopped. No ; that 
was the wrong house. The next door. It 
went on a few paces, and stopped again. Oliver 
looked up at the windows with tears of happy 
expectation coursing down his face. 

Alas ! the white house was empty, and there 
was a bill in the window — ^^ To Let." 

^^ Knock at the next door," cried Mr. Los- 
berne, taking 01iver''s arm in his. " What has 
become of Mr. Brownlow, who used to live in 
the adjoining house, do you know?" 
P 2 



212 OLIVER TWIST. 

The servant did not know; but would go 
and inquire. She presently returned^ and said 
that Mr. Brownlow had sold off his goods, and 
gone to the West Indies six weeks before. 
Oliver clasped his hands, and sank feebly back- 
wards. 

'' Has his housekeeper gone too V^ inquired 
Mr. Losberne, after a moment's pause. 

"Yes, sir;" replied the servant. " The old 
gentleman, the housekeeper, and a gentleman, 
a friend of Mr. Brownlow's, all went to- 
gether.'' 

"Then turn towards home again," said Mr. 
Losberne to the driver, " and don't stop to 
bait the horses till you get out of this con- 
founded London !" 

"The book- stall keeper, sir?" said Oliver. 
** I know the way there. See him, pray sir ! 
Do see him !" 

" My poor boy, this is disappointment enough 
for one day," said the doctor. " Quite enough 
for both of us. If we go to the book-stall 
keeper's we shall certainly find that he is dead. 



OLIVER TWIST. 213 

or has set his house on fire, or run away. 
No ; home again straight !" And, in obedi- 
ence to the doctor's first impulse, home they 
went. 

This bitter disappointment caused Oliver 
much sorrow and grief even in the midst of his 
happiness ; for he had pleased himself many 
times during his iUness with thinking of all that 
Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin would say to 
him, and what delight it would be to tell them 
how many long days and nights he had passed 
in reflecting upon what they had done for him, 
and in bewailing his cruel separation from them. 
The hope of eventually clearing himself with 
them, too, and explaining how he had been 
forced away, had buoyed him up and sustained 
him under many of his recent trials ; and now 
the idea that they should have gone so far, and 
carried with them the belief that he was an im- 
postor and a robber, — a belief which might re- 
main uncontradicted to his dying day, — was 
almost more than he could bear. 

The circumstance occasioned no alteration. 



214 OLIVER TWIST. 

however, in the behaviour of his benefactors. 
After another fortnight, when the fine warm 
weather had fairly begun, and every tree and 
flower was putting forth its young leaves and 
rich blossoms, they made preparations for quit- 
ting the house at Chertsey for some months. 
Sending the plate which had so excited the 
Jew's cupidity to the banker's, and leaving 
Giles and another servant in care of the 
house, they departed for a cottage some dis- 
tance in the country, and took Oliver with 
them. 

Who can describe the pleasure and delight, 
the peace of mind and soft tranquilhty, which 
the sickly boy felt in the balmy air, and among 
the green hills and rich woods of an inland 
village ! Who can tell how scenes of peace 
and quietude sink into the minds of pain-worn 
dwellers in close and noisy places, and carry 
their own freshness deep into their jaded hearts ? 
Men who have lived in crowded pent-up streets, 
through whole lives of toil, and never wished 
for change ; men to whom custom has indeed 



OLIVER TWIST. 215 

been second nature, and who have come almost 
to love each brick and stone that formed the 
narrow boundaries of their daily walks — even 
they with the hand of death upon them, have 
been known to yearn at last for one short 
glimpse of Nature's face, and, carried far from 
the scenes of their old pains and pleasures, 
have seemed to pass at once into a new state 
of being, and crawling forth from day to day to 
some green sunny spot, have had such me- 
mories wakened up within them by the mere 
sight of sky, and hill, and plain, and glistening 
water, that a foretaste of heaven itself has 
soothed their quick decline, and they have sunk 
into their tombs as peacefully as the sun, whose 
setting they watched from their lonely chamber- 
window but a few hours before, faded from 
their dim and feeble sight ! The memories 
which peaceful country scenes call up, are not 
of this world, or of its thoughts or hopes. 
Their gentle influence may teach us to weave 
fresh garlands for the graves of those we loved, 
may purify our thoughts, and bear down before 



216 OLIVER TWIST. 

it old enmity and hatred ; but^ beneath all this 
there lingers in the least reflective mind a vague 
and half-formed consciousness of having held 
such feelings long before in some remote and 
distant time, which calls up solemn thoughts of 
distant times to come, and bends down pride 
and worldliness beneath it. 

It was a lovely spot to which they repaired, 
and Oliver, whose days had been spent among 
squalid crowds, and in the midst of noise 
and brawling, seemed to enter upon a new 
existence there. The rose and honeysuckle 
clung to the cottage walls, the ivy crept round 
the trunks of the trees, and the garden-flowers 
perfumed the air with delicious odours. Hard 
by, was a little churchyard : not crowded with 
tall, unsightly gravestones, but full of humble 
mounds covered with fresh turf and moss, be- 
neath which the old people of the village lay at 
rest. Oliver often wandered here, and, thinking 
of the wretched grave in which his mother lay, 
would sometimes sit him down and sob unseen ; 
but, as he raised his eyes to the deep sky over- 



OLIVER TWIST. 217 

head, he would cease to think of her as lying in 
the ground, and weep for lier sadly, but with- 
out pain. 

It was a happy time. The days were peace- 
ful and serene, and the nights brought wdth 
them no fear or care, no languishing in a 
wretched j^rison, or associating with wretched 
men : nothing but pleasant and happy thoughts. 
Every morning he went to a white-headed old 
gentleman, who lived near the little church, who 
taught him to read better and to write, and 
spoke so kindly, and took such pains, that 
Oliver could never try enough to please him. 
Then he w^ould walk Avith Mrs. Maylie and 
Rose, and hear them talk of books, or perhaps 
sit near them in some shady place, and listen 
whilst the young lady read, which he could 
have done till it grew too dark to see the letters. 
Then he had his own lesson for the next day to 
prepare, and at this he vrould work hard in a 
little room which looked into the garden, till 
evening came slowly on, when the ladies would 
walk out again, and he with them : listening 
with such pleasure to all they said, and so happy 



218 OLIVER TWIST. 

if they wanted a flower that he could climb to 
reach, or had forgotten any thing he could run 
to fetch, that he could never be quick enough 
about it. When it became quite dark, and they 
returned home, the young lady would sit down 
to the piano, and play some melancholy air, or 
sing in a low and gentle voice some old song 
which it pleased her aunt to hear. There would 
be no candles at such times as these, and Oliver 
would sit by one of the windows, listening to 
the sweet music, while tears of tranquil joy 
stole down his face. 

And, when Sunday came, how differently the 
day was spent from any manner in which he 
had ever spent it yet ! and how happily, too, 
like all the other days in that most happy 
time I There was the little church in the 
morning, with the green leaves fluttering at the 
windows, the birds singing without, and the 
sweet-smelling air stealing in at the low porch, 
and filling the homely building with its fra- 
grance. The poor people were so neat and 
clean, and knelt so reverently in prayer, that it 
seemed a pleasure, not a tedious duty, their 



OLIVER TWIST. 219 

assembling there together; and^ though the 
singing might be rude^ it was real, and sounded 
more musical (to Oliver's ears at least) than 
any he had ever heard in church before. Then 
there were the walks as usual, and many calls 
at the clean houses of the labouring men ; and 
at night Oliver read a chapter or two from the 
Bible, which he had been studying all the week, 
and in the performance of which duty he felt 
more proud and pleased than if he had been 
the clergyman himself. 

In the morning Oliver would be a-foot by 
six o'clock, roaming the fields and surveying 
the hedges far and wide, for nosegays of wild 
flowers, with which he would return laden 
home, and which it took great care and con- 
sideration to arrange to the best advantage for 
the embellishment of the breakfast-table. There 
was fresh groundsel, too, for Miss Maylie's 
birds, with which Oliver, — who had been study- 
ing the subject under the able tuition of the 
village clerk, — would decorate the cages in the 
most approved taste. When the birds were 



220 OLIVER TWIST. 

made all spruce and smart for the day, there 
was usually some little commission of charity 
to execute in the village, or failing that, there 
was always something to do in the garden, or 
about the plants, to which Oliver — who had 
studied this science also under the same master, 
who was a gardener by trade — apphed himself 
with hearty goodwill till Miss Rose made her 
appearance, when there were a thousand com- 
mendations to be bestowed upon all he had 
done, for which one of those light-hearted beau- 
tiful smiles was an ample recompence. 

So three months glided away ; three months 
which, in the life of the most blessed and 
favoured of mortals, would have been unmixed 
happiness ; but w^iich, in Oliver's troubled and 
clouded dawn, were felicity indeed. With the 
purest and most amiable generosity on one 
side, and the truest, and warmest, and most 
soul-felt gratitude on the other, it is no wonder 
that by the end of that short time, Oliver Twist 
had become completely domesticated with the 
old lady and her niece, and that the fervent 



OLIVER TWIST. 221 

attacliment of his young and sensitive heart was 
repaid by their pride in, and attachment to^ 
himself. 



222 OLIVER TWIST, 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

WHEREIN THE HAPPINESS OF OLIVER AND. HIS FRIENDS 
EXPERIENCES A SUDDEN CHECK. 

Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came ; 
and if the village had been beautiful at first, it 
was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its 
richness. The great trees, which had looked 
shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had 
now burst into strong life and health, and, 
stretching forth their green arms over the 
thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots 
into choice nooks, where was a deep and plea- 
sant shade from which to look upon the wide 
prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay 
stretched out beyond. The earth had donned 
her mantle of brightest green, and shed her 
richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and 
vigour of the year, and all things were glad and 
flourishing. 



OLIVER TWIST. 223 

Still the same quiet life went on at the little 
cottage, and the same cheerful serenity pre- 
vailed among its inmates. Oliver had long 
since grown stout and healthy ; but health or 
sickness made no difference in his warm feel- 
ings to those about him (though they do in the 
feelings of a great many people), and he was 
still the same gentle, attached, affectionate crea- 
ture, that he had been when pain and suffering 
had wasted his strength, and he was dependent 
for every slight attention and comfort on those 
who tended him. 

One beautiful night they had taken a longer 
walk than was customary with them, for the 
day had been unusually warm, and there was a 
brilliant moon, and a light wind had sprung up, 
which was unusually refreshing. Rose had 
been in high spirits too, and they had walked 
on in merry conversation until they had far ex- 
ceeded their ordinary bounds. Mrs. Maylie 
was fatigued, and they returned more slowly 
home. The young lady, merely throwing off 
her simple bonnet, sat down to the piano as 
usual 'y after running abstractedly over the keys 



224 OLIVER TWIST. 

for a few minutes^ she fell into a low and very 
solemn air^ and as she played it they heard her 
sob as if she were weeping. 

^ Rose^ my dear V said the elder lady. 

Rose made no reply^ but played a little 
quicker^ as though the sound had roused her 
from some painful thoughts. 

" Rose^ my love !" cried Mrs. Maylie, rising 
hastily, and bending over her. " What is this ? 
Your face is bathed in tears. My dear child^ 
what distresses you }'' 

" Nothing, aunt, — nothing/^ replied the 
young lady. " I don't know what it is ; I 
can't describe it ; but I feel so low to-night, 
and " 

" Not ill, my love?" interposed Mrs. Maylie. 

" No, no ! Oh, not ill !" replied Rose, shud- 
dering as though some deadly chillness were 
passing over her while she spoke ; ^^ at least I 
shall be better presently. Close the window, 
pray." 

Oliver hastened to comply with the request ; 
and the young lady, making an effort to recover 
her cheerfulness, strove to play some livelier 



OLIVER TWIST. 225 

tune. But her fingers dropped powerless on the 
keys, and, covering her face with her hands, she 
sank upon a sofa, and gave vent to the tears 
which she was now unable to repress. 

" My child V^ said the elder lady, folding her 
arms about her, " I never saw you thus be- 
fore." 

^^ I would not alarm you if I could avoid it," 
rejoined Rose ; ^^ but indeed I have tried very 
hard, and cannot help this. I fear I am ill, 
aunt." 

She was, indeed; for, when candles were 
brought, they saw that in the very short time 
which had elapsed since their return home, the 
hue of her countenance had changed to a mar- 
ble whiteness. Its expression had lost nothing 
of its beauty, but yet it was changed, and there 
was an anxious haggard look about that gentle 
face which it had never worn before. Another 
minute, and it was suffused with a crimson 
flush, and a heavy wildness came over the soft 
blue eye ; again this disappeared like the shadow 
thrown by a passing cloud, and she was once 
more deadly pale. 

VOL. II. Q 



2^6 OLIVER TWIST. 

Oliver, who watched the old lady anxiously^, 
observed that she was alarmed by these appear- 
ances, and so, in truth, was he ; but, seeing that 
she affected to make light of them, he endea- 
voured to do the same, and they so far suc- 
ceeded, hat when Rose was persuaded by her 
aunt to retire for the night, she was in better 
spirits, and appeared even in better health, and 
assured them that she felt certain she should 
wake in the morning quite well. 

^^ I hope, ma^am," said Oliver, when Mrs. 
Maylie returned, " that nothing' serious is the 
matter? Miss Maylie doesn't look well to- 
night, but " 

The old lady motioned him not to speak, and, 
sitting herself down in a dark corner of the 
room, remained silent for some time. At length 
she said, in a trembling voice,-— 

" I hope not, Oliver. I have been very 
happy with her for some years — too happy, 
perhaps, and it may be time that I should 
meet with some misfortune ; but I hope it is 
not this." 

^^ What misfortune, ma'am ?" inquired Oliver. 



OLIVER TWIST. S27 

^^ The heavy blow/' said the old lady almost 
inarticulately, ^^ of losing the dear girl who has 
so long been my comfort and happiness," 

^^Oh! God forbid!" exclaimed Oliver has- 
tily. 

^' Amen to that, my child !*" said the old lady, 
wringing her hands. 

'^ Sm*ely there is no danger of any thing so 
dreadful!" said Oliver. *^^ Two hours ago she 
was quite well." 

^^ She is very ill now," rejoined Mrs. Maylie, 
^^ and will be worse, I am sure. My dear, dear 
Rose ! Oh, what should I do without her !"J 

The lady sank beneath her desponding 
thoughts, and gave way to such great grief that 
Oliver, suppressing his own emotion, ventured 
to remonstrate with her, and to beg earnestly 
that, for the sake of the dear young lady herself, 
she would be more calm. 

" And consider, ma'am," said Oliver, as the 
tears forced themselves into his eyes despite his 
efforts to the contrary, ^^ oh ! consider how 
young and good she is, and what pleasure and 
comfort she gives to all about her. I am sure 
q2 



Q^S OLIVER TWIST. 

— certain — quite certain — that^ for your sake, 
•who are so good yourself, and for her own, and 
for the sake of all she makes so happy, she will 
not die. God will never let her die yet." 

" Hush !" said Mrs. Maylie, laying her hand 
on Oliver's head. " You think like a child, 
poor boy ; and although what you say may be 
natural, it is wrong. But you teach me my 
duty, notwithstanding. I had forgotten it for 
a moment, Oliver, and I hope I may be par- 
doned, for I am old, and have seen enough of 
illness and death to know the pain they leave 
to those behind. I have seen enough, too, to 
know that it is not always the youngest and 
best who are spared to those that love them ; 
but this should give us comfort rather than sor- 
row, for Heaven is just, and such things teach 
us im.pressively that tliere is a far brighter 
world than this, and that the passage to it is 
speedy. God's will be done ! but I love her, 
and He alone knows how well !" 

Oliver was surprised to see that as Mrs. 
Maylie said these words, she checked her 
lamentations as though by one struggle, and. 



OLIVER TWIST. 229 

drawing herself up as she spoke, became quite 
composed and firm. He was still more asto- 
nished to find that this firmness lasted, and 
that under all the care and watching which 
ensued, Mrs. Maylie was ever ready and col- 
lected, performing all the duties which devolved 
upon her steadily, and, to all external appear- 
ance, even cheerfully. But he was young, and 
did not know what strong minds are capable of 
under trying circumstances. How should he, 
indeed, when their possessors so seldom know 
themselves ? 

An anxious night ensued, and when morning 
came, Mrs. Mayhems predictions were but too 
well verified. Rose was in the first stage of a 
high and dangerous fever. 

^^ We must be active, Oliver, and not give 
way to useless grief," said Mrs. Maylie, laying 
her finger on her lip as she looked steadily into 
his face ; " this letter must be sent with all pos- 
sible expedition to Mr. Losberne. It must be 
carried to the market-town, which is not more 
than four miles off by the footpath across the 
fields, and thence despatched by an express on 



2S0 OLIVER TWIST. 

horseback straight to Chertsey. The people at 
the inn will undertake to do this^ and I can 
trust you to see it done^ I know." 

Oliver could make no reply^ but looked his 
anxiety to be gone at once. 

^^ Here is another letter_," said Mrs. Maylie, 
pausing to reflect ; " but whether to send it 
now^ or wait until I see how Rose goes on^ I 
scarcely know. I would not forward it unless 
I feared the worst.'' 

" Is it for Chertsey, too, ma'am V inquired 
Oliver, impatient to execute his commission, 
and holding out his trembling hand for the 
letter. 

^' No," replied the old lady, giving it him 
mechanically. Oliver glanced at it, and saw 
that it was directed to Harry Maylie, Esquire^ 
at some lord's house in the country ; where, he 
could not make out. 

'^ Shall it go, ma^am V asked.J_01iver, looking 
up impatiently. 

^^ I think not,'' replied Mrs. Maylie, taking it 
back. ^^ I will wait till to-morrow." 

With these words^she gave Oliver her purse. 



OLIVER TWIST. 231 

and he started oif without more delay at the 
greatest speed he could muster. 

Swiftly he ran across the fields^ and down the 
little lanes which sometimes divided them^ now 
almost hidden by the high corn on either side, 
and now emerging into an open field where 
the mowers and haymakers were busy at their 
work ; nor did he stop once, save now and 
then for a few seconds to recover, breath, until 
he emerged in a great heat, and covered with 
dust, on the little market-place of the market- 
town. 

Here he paused, and looked about for the 
inn. There was a white bank, and a red 
brewery, and a yellow town-hall ; and in one 
porner a large house with all the wood about it 
painted green, before which was the sign of 
" The George," to which he hastened directly 
it caught his eye. 

Oliver spoke to a postboy who was dozing 
under the gateway, and who, after hearing what 
he wanted, referred him to the hostler; who, 
after hearing all he had to say again, referred 
him to the landlord, who was a tall gentleman 



232 OLIVER TWIST. 

in a blue neckcloth^, a white hat, drab breeches, 
and boots with tops to match, and was leaning 
against a pump by the stable-door, picking his 
teeth with a silver toothpick. 

This gentleman walked with much delibera- 
tion to the bar to mak e out the bill, which took 
a long time making out, and after it was ready, 
and paid, a horse had to be saddled, and a man 
to be dressed, which took up ten good minutes 
more ; meanwhile Oliver was in such a des- 
perate state of impatience and anxiety, that he 
felt as if he could have jumped upon the horse 
himself, and galloped away full tear to the next 
stage. At length all was ready, and the little 
parcel having been handed up, with many in- 
junctions and entreaties for its speedy delivery, 
the man set spurs to his horse, and, rattling 
over the uneven paving of the market-place, was 
out of the town, and galloping along the turn- 
pike-road, in a couple of minutes. 

It was something to feel certain that assist- 
ance was sent for, and that no time had been 
lost. Oliver hurried up the inn-yard with a 
somewhat lighter heart, and was turning out of 



OLIVER TWIST. 233 

the gateway when he accidentally stumbled 
against a tall man wrapped in a cloak, who 
was that moment coming out at the inn-door. 

'^ Hah !" cried the man, fixing his eyes on 
Oliver, and suddenly recoiling. "What the 
devil's this V 

" I beg your pardon, sir," said Oliver ; " I 
was in a great hurry to get home, and didn't 
see you were coming." 

" Death 1" muttered tlie man to himself, 
glaring at the boy with his large dark eyes. 
" Who'd have thought it 1 Grind him to ashes ! 
heM start up from a marble ccffin to come in 
my way!" 

" I am sorry, sir," stammered Oliver, con- 
fused by the strange man's wild look. '' I hope 
I have not hurt you ?" 

" Rot his bones !" murmured the man in a 
horrible passion between his clenched teeth, 
" if I had only had the courage to say the word, I 
might have been free of him in a night. Curses 
light upon your head, and black death upon 
your heart, you imp ! W^hat are you doing 
here?" 



234 OLIVER TWIST. 

The man shook his fist, and gnashed his 
teeth^ as he uttered these words incoherently ; 
and advancing towards Oliver as if with the 
intention of aiming a blow at him, fell vio- 
lently on the ground^ writhing and foaming, in 
a fit. 

Oliver gazed for a moment at the fearful 
struggles of the madman (for such he supposed 
him to be), and then darted into the house for 
help. Having seen him safely carried into the 
hotel, he turned his face homewards, running as 
fast as he could to make up for lost time, and 
recalling, with a great deal of astonishment 
and some fear, the extraordinary behaviour of 
the person from whom he had just parted. 

The circumstance did not dwell in his recol- 
lection long, however; for when, he reached 
the cottage, there was enough to occup)^ his 
mind, and to drive all considerations of self 
completely from his memory. 

Rose i\iaylie had rapidly grown worse, and 
before midnight was delirious. A medical 
practitioner, who resided on the spot, was in 
constant attendance upon her, and, after first 



OLIVER TWIST. ^35 

seeing the patient, he had taken Mrs. Maylie 
aside, and pronounced her disorder to be one of 
a most alarming nature. ^^ In fact/^ he said, 
"it would be little short of a miracle if she 
recovered/^ 

How often did Oliver start from his bed that 
night, and, stealing out with noiseless footstep 
to the staircase, listen for the slightest sound 
from the sick chamber! How often did a trem- 
ble shake his frame, and cold drops of terror 
start upon his brow, when a sudden trampling 
of feet caused him to fear that something too 
dreadful to think of had even then occurred. 
And what had been the fervency of all the 
prayers he had ever uttered, compared with 
those he poured forth now, in the agony and 
passion of his supplication, for the life and 
health of the gentle creature who was tottering 
on the deep grave's verge! 

The suspense, the fearful acute suspense, of 
standing idly by while the life of one we dearly 
love is trembling in the balance — the racking 
thoughts that crowd upon the mind, and make 
the heart beat violently, and the breath come 



^36 OLIVER TWIST. 

thick, by the force of the images they conjure 
up before it — the desperate anxiety to be doing 
something to reheve the pain, or lessen the dan- 
ger which we have no power to alleviate ; and 
the sinking of soul and spirit which the sad 
remembrance of our helplessness produces, — 
what tortures can equal these, and what reflec- 
tions or efforts can, in the full tide and fever of 
the time, allay them ! 

Morning came, and the little cottage was 
lonely and still. People spoke in whispers ; 
anxious faces appeared at the gate from time to 
time, and women and children went away in 
tears. All the livelong day, and for hours after 
it had grown dark, Oliver paced softly up and 
down the garden, raising his eyes every instant 
to the sick chamber, and shuddering to see the 
darkened window looking as if death lay 
stretched inside. Late at night Mr. Losberne 
arrived. " It is hard," said the good doctor, 
turning away as he spoke ; '* so young — so 
much beloved — but there is very little hope." 

Another morning the sun shone brightly, — 
as brightly as if it looked upon no misery or 



OLIVER TWIST." ^SJ 

care ; and^ with every leaf and flower in full 
bloom about her^ — with life^, and healthy and 
sounds and sights of joy surrounding her on 
every side, the fair young creature lay wasting 
fast. Oliver crept away to the old churchy ard, 
and, sitting down on one of the green mounds, 
wept for her in silence. 

There was such peace and beauty in the scene, 
so much of brightness and mirth in the sunny 
landscape, such blithesome music in the songs of 
the summer birds, such freedom in the rapid 
flight of the rook careering overhead, so much 
of life and joyousness in all, that when the boy 
raised his aching eyes, and looked about, the 
thought instinctively occurred to him that this 
was not a time for death ; that Rose could 
surely never die when humbler things were all 
so glad and gay ; that graves v/ere for cold and 
cheerless winter, not for sunlight and fragrance. 
He almost thought that shrouds were for the 
old and shrunken, and never wrapped the young 
and graceful form within their ghastly folds. 

A knell from the church-bell broke harshly 
on these youthful thoughts. Another — again ! 



238 OLIVER TWIST. 

It was tolling for the funeral service. A group 
of humble mourners entered the gate^ and they 
wore white favours, for the corpse was young. 
They stood uncovered by a grave ; and there 
was a mother — a mother once — among the 
weeping train. But the sun shone brightly, 
and the birds sang on, 

Oliver turned homewards, thinking on the 
many kindnesses he had received from the 
young lady, and wishing that the time could 
come over again, that he might never cease 
showing her how grateful and attached he was. 
He had no cause for self-reproach on the score 
of neglect or want of thought, for he had been 
devoted to her service; and yet a hundred 
little occasions rose up before him on which he 
fancied he might have been more zealous and 
m.ore earnest, and wished he had been. We 
need be careful how we deal with those about 
us, for every death carries with it to some small 
circle of survivors thoughts of so much omitted, 
and so little done — of so many things forgotten, 
and so many more which might have been re- 
paired, that such recollections are among the 



OLIVER TWIST. 239 

bitterest we can have. There is no remorse so 
deep as that which is unavaiHng ; if we would 
be spared its tortures^ let us remember this in 
time. 

When he reached home^ Mrs. May lie was sit- 
ting in the little parlour. Ohver's heart sank 
at sight of her, for she had never left the bedside 
of her niece, and he trembled to think what 
change could have driven her away. He learnt 
that she had fallen into a deep sleep, from which 
she would waken either to recovery and life, 
or to bid them farewell, and die. 

They sat, listening, and afraid to speak for 
hours. The untasted meal was removed; and 
with looks which showed that their thoughts 
were elsewhere, they watched the sun as he 
sank lower and lower, and at length cast over 
sky and earth those brilliant hues which herald 
his departure. Their quick ears caught the 
sound of an approaching footstep, and they both 
involuntarily darted towards the door as Mr. 
Losberne entered. 

'' What of Rose?" cried the old lady. "Tell 



240 OLIVER TWIST. 

me at once. I can bear it ; any thing but sus- 
pense. Oh, tell me ! in the name of Heaven l'^ 

'^ You must compose yourself/^ said the doc- 
tor, supporting her. " Be calm, my dear ma^am, 
pray." 

^^ Let me go, in God's name !" gasped Mrs. 
Maylie. ^^ My dear child ! She is dead I She is 
dying !" 

" No !" cried the doctor passionately. " As 
He is good and merciful, she will live to bless 
us all for years to come." 

The lady fell upon her knees, and tried to 
fold her hands together*; but the energy which 
had supported her so long fled to Heaven with 
her first thanksgiving, and she sank back into 
the friendly arms which were extended to receive 
her. 



OLIVER TWIST. 241 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

CONTAINS SOME INTRODUCTORY PARTICULARS RELATIA'E 
TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO NOW ARRIVES UPON 
THE SCENE, AND A NEW ADVENTURE WHICH HAPPENED 
TO OLIVER. 

It was almost too much happiness to bear. 
Ohver felt stunned and stupified by the unex- 
pected intelligence; he could not weep, or 
speak, or rest. He had scarcely the power of 
understanding any thing that had passed, until 
after a long ramble in the quiet evening air a 
burst of tears came to his relief, and he seemed 
to awaken all at once to a full sense of the joy- 
ful change that had occurred, and the almost 
insupportable load of anguish which had been 
taken from nis breast. 

The night was fast closing in when he re- 
turned homewards, laden with flowers which he 
had cuUed with peculiar care for the adprn- 

VOL. IJ. R 



24^ OLIVER TWIST. 

ment of the sick chamber. As he walked 
briskly along the road, he heard behind him the 
noise of some vehicle approaching at a furious 
pace. Looking round, he saw that it was a 
post-chaise driven at great speed ; and as the 
horses were galloping, and the road was nar- 
row, he stood leaning against a' gate until it 
should have passed him by. 

As it dashed on, Oliver caught a glimpse of 
a man in a white nightcap, whose face seemed 
familiar to him, although his view was so brief 
that he could not identify the person. In 
another second or two the nightcap was thrust 
out of the chaise-window, and a stentorian 
voice bellowed to the driver to stop, which he 
did as soon as he could pull up his horses, when 
the nightcap once again appeared, and the same 
voice called Oliver by his name. 

*^ Here 1" cried the voice. '^ Master Oliver, 
what^s the news? Miss Rose — Master 0-li- 
ver.^' 

^^ Is it you, Giles ?^^ cried Oliver, running up 
to the chaise-door. 

Giles popped out his nightcap again, prepa- 



OLIVER TWIST. 243 

ratory to making some reply^, when he was sud- 
denly pulled back by a young gentleman who 
occupied the other corner of the chaise, and 
who eagerly demanded what was the news. 

" In a word," cried the gentleman, " better 
or worse ?" 

" Better — much better,^' replied Oliver 
hastily. 

'^ Thank Heaven \" exclaimed the gentleman. 
*^ You are sure V 

'' Quite, sir," replied Oliver ; " the change 
took place only a few hours ago, and Mr. Los- 
berne says that all danger is at an end." 

The gentleman said not another word," but, 
opening the chaise-door, leaped out, and, taking 
Oliver hurriedly by the arm, led him aside. 

" This is quite certain ? — there is no possi- 
bility of any mistake on your part, my boy, is 
there }" demanded the gentleman in a tremu- 
lous voice. " Pray do not deceive me by awak- 
ening any hopes that are not to be fulfilled." 

"I would not for the world, sir," replied 
Oliver. " Indeed you may believe me. Mr. 



244' OLIVER TWIST. 

Losberne's words were, that she would live to 
bless us all for many years to come. I heard 
him say so/^ 

The tears stood in Oliver's eyes as he recalled 
the scene which was the beginning of so much 
happiness, and the gentleman turned his face 
away, and remained silent for some minutes. 
Oliver thought he heard him sob more than 
once, but he feared to interrupt him by any fur- 
ther remark — for he could well guess what his 
feelings were — and so stood apart, feigning to 
be occupied with his nosegay. 

All this time Mr. Giles, with the white night- 
cap on, had been sitting upon the steps of the 
chaise, supporting an elbow on each knee, 
and wiping his eyes with a blue cotton pocket- 
handkerchief dotted with white spots. That 
the honest fellow had not been feigning emotion 
was abundantly demonstrated by the very red 
eyes with which he regarded the young gentle- 
man, when he turned round and addressed 
him. 

^^ I think you had better go on to my mother's 



OLIVER TWIST. 245 

in the chaise^ Giles/' said he. ^^ I would rather 
walk slowly on, so as to gain a little time before 
I see her. You can say I am coming/' 

^^ I beg your pardon, Mr. Harry/' said Giles, 
giving a final polish to his ruffled countenance 
with the handkerchief, ''but if you would leave 
the postboy to say that, I should be very much 
obliged to you. It wouldn't be proper for the 
maids to see me in this state, sir; I should 
never have any more authority with them if 
they did." 

^^Well," rejoined Harry Maylie, smiling, 
^^you can do as you like. Let him go on with 
the portmanteaus, if you wish it, and do you 
follow with us. Only first exchange that night-» 
cap for some more appropriate covering, or we 
shall be taken for madmen.*' 

Mr. Giles, reminded of his unbecoming cos- 
tume, snatched off and pocketed his nightcap, 
and substituted a hat of grave and sober shape, 
which he took out of the chaise. This done, 
the postboy drove off, and Giles, Mr. Maylie, 
and Oliver followed at their leisure. 

As they walked along, Oliver glanced from 



246 OLIVER TWIST. 

time to time with much interest and curiosity 
at the new-comer. He seemed about five-and- 
twenty years of age, and was of the middle 
height ; his countenance was frank and hand- 
some, and his demeanour singularly easy and 
prepossessing. Notwithstanding the differences 
between youth and age. he bore so strong a 
likeness to the old lady, that Oliver would have 
had no great difficulty in imagining their rela- 
tionship, even if he had not already spoken of 
her as his mother. 

Mrs. Maylie was anxiously waiting to receive 
her son when he reached the cottage, and the 
meeting did not take place without great emo- 
tion on both sides. 

"Oh, mother,^^ whispered the young man, 
'^ why did you not write before ?'^ 

" I did write,'^ replied Mrs. Mayhe ; " but, 
on reflection, I determined to keep back the 
letter until I had heard Mr. Losberne's opi- 
nion.^' 

^^ But why,^' said the young man, '* why run 
the chance of that occurring which so nearly 
happened ? If Rose had — I cannot utter that 



OLIVER TWIST. 24.7 

word now — if this illness had terminated difFer- 
entl}'^ how could you ever have forgiven your- 
self, or I been happy again V 

" If that had been the case^ Harry," said Mrs. 
Maylie, " I fear your happiness would have been 
effectually blighted^ and that your arrival here a 
day sooner or later would have been of very, 
very little import." 

^* And who can wonder if it be so, mother V 
rejoined the young man ; " or why should I 
say if? — It is — it is — you know it, mother — 
you must know it.*^ 

"1 know that she well deserves the best and 
purest love that the heart of man can offer/' 
said Mrs. Maylie; " I know that the devotion 
and affection of her nature require no ordinary 
return, but one that shall be deep and lasting. 
If I did not feel this, and know, besides, that a 
changed behaviour in one she loved would break 
her heart, I should not feel my task so difficult 
of performance, or have to encounter so many 
struggles in my own bosom, when I take what 
seems to me to be the strict line of dutv.'* 



248 OLIVER TWIST. 

"This is unkind, mother/' said Harry. 
" Do you still suppose that I am so much a boy 
as not to know my own mind, or to mistake the 
impulses ol" my own soul ?" 

"I think, my dear fellow/' returned Mrs, 
Maylie, laying her hand upon Jiis shoulder, 
" that youth has many generous impulses which 
do not last, and that among them are some 
which, being gratified, become only the more 
fleeting. Above all, I think,'' said the lady, 
fixing her eyes on her son's face, '' that if an 
enthusiastic, ardent, ambitious young man has 
a wife on whose name is a stain, which, though 
it originate in no fault of hers, may be visited 
by cold and sordid people upon her, and upon 
his children also, and, in exact proportion to his 
success in the world, be cast in his teeth, and 
made the subject of sneers against him, he may 
— no matter how generous and good his nature 
— one day repent of the connexion he formed 
in early life, and she may have the pain and 
torture of knowing that he does so." 

^^ Mother," said the young man impatiently. 



OLIVER TWIST. 249 

^^ he would be a mere selfish brute, unworthy- 
alike of the name of man and of the woman you 
describe, who acted thus." 

"You think so now, Harry/' replied his 
mother. 

" And ever will," said the young man. " The 
mental agony I have suffered during the last 
two days wrings from me the undisguised 
avowal to you of a passion which, as you well 
know, is not one of yesterday, nor one I have 
lightly formed. On Rose, sweet, gentle girl! 
my heart is set as firmly as ever heart of man 
was set on woman. I have no thought, or view, 
or hope in life beyond her ; and if you oppose 
me in this great stake, you take my peace and 
happiness in your hands, and cast them to the 
wind. Mother, think better of this, and of me, 
and do not disregard the warm feelings of which 
you seem to think so little.'' 

" Harry," said Mrs. Maylie, " it is because I 
think so much of warm and sensitive hearts that 
I would spare them from being wounded. But 
we have said enough, and more than enough, 
on this matter just now." 



250 OLIVER TWIST, 

" Let it rest with Rose, then/^ interposed 
Harry. " You will not press these overstrained 
opinions of yours so far as to throw any obstacle 
in my way ?" 

" I will not," rejoined Mrs. Maylie ; " but I 
would have you consider '^ 

" 1 have considered," was the impatient reply 
— " I have considered for years — considered 
almost since I have been capable of serious re- 
flection. My feelings remain unchanged, as 
they ever will ; and why should I suffer the 
pain of a delay in giving them vent, which can 
be productive of no earthly good ? No ! Before 
I leave this place, Rose shall hear me." 

" She shall," said Mrs. Maylie. 

^' There is something in your manner which 
would almost imply that she will hear me 
coldly, mother," said the young man, anxi- 
ously. 

"Not coldly," rejoined the old lady; "far 
from it." 

" How then ?" urged the young man. " She 
has formed no other attachment?" 

" No, indeed," replied his mother. " You 



OLIVER TWIST. ^51 

have, or 1 mistake, too strong a hold on her 
affections already/^ 

^' What I would say/^ resumed the old lady, 
stopping her son as he was about to speak, " is 
this : Before you stake your all on this chance, 
— before you suffer yourself to be carried to the 
highest point of hope, reflect for a few moments, 
my dear child, on Rose's history, and consider 
what effect the knowledge of her doubtful birth 
may have on her decision, — devoted as she is 
to us with all the intensity of her noble mind, 
and that perfect sacrifice of self which, in all 
matters, great or trifling, has always been her 
characteristic." 

'^ What do you mean ?" 

" That I leave to you to discover," replied 
Mrs. Maylie. "I must go back to Rose. God 
bless you !" 

"I shall see you again to-night?" said the 
young man eagerly. 

" By and by," replied the lady, " when I 
leave Rose." 

" You will tell her I am here ? " said Harry. 

" Of course," repUed Mrs, Maylie. 



S5^ OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ And say how anxious I have been, and how 
much I have suffered, and how I long to see 
her — you will not refuse to do this, mother ?" 

"No/' said the old lady, "I will teU her 
that ;" and, pressing her son's hand affection- 
ately, she hastened from the room. 

Mr. Losberne and Oliver had remained at 
another end of the apartment while this hur- 
ried conversation was proceeding. The former 
now held out his hand to Harry Maylie, and 
hearty salutations were exchanged between 
them. The doctor then communicated, in 
reply to multifarious questions from his young 
friend, a precise account of his patient's situa- 
tion, which was quite as consolatory and full of 
promise as Oliver's statement had encouraged 
him to hope, and to the whole of which Mr. 
Giles, who affected to be busy about the lug- 
gage, listened with greedy ears. 

^^ Have you shot any thing particular lately, 
Giles ?" inquired the doctor, when he had con- 
cluded. 

" Nothing particular, sir,'' replied Mr. Giles, 
colouring up to the eyes. 



OLIVER TWIST. 2o3 

" Nor catching any thieves, nor identifying 
any housebreakers ?'' said the doctor mali- 
ciously. 

" None at all, sir," replied Mr. Giles with 
much gravity. 

" Well," said the doctor, " I am sorry to 
hear it, because you do that sort of thing so 
well. Pray, how is Brittles ?" 

" The boy is very well, sir," said Mr. Giles, 
recovering his usual tone of patronage, ^^ and 
sends his respectful duty, sir." 

" That's weiy said the doctor. '' Seeing 
you here, reminds me, Mr. Giles, that on the 
day before that on which I was called away so 
hurriedly, I executed, at the request of your 
good mistress, a small commission in your 
favour. Just step into this corner a moment, 
will you?" 

Mr. Giles walked into the corner with much 
importance and some wonder, and was ho- 
noured with a short whispering conference with 
the doctor ; on the termination of which he 
made a great many bovrs, and retired with steps 
of unusual stateiiness. The subject matter of 



S54 OLIVER TWIST. 

this conference was not disclosed in the parlour, 
but the kitchen was speedily enlightened con- 
cerning it ; for Mr. Giles walked straight thi- 
ther, and having called for a mug of ale, an- 
nounced, with an air of majestic majesty which 
was highly effective, that it had pleased his 
mistress, in consideration of his gallant beha- 
viour on the occasion of that attempted robbery, 
to deposit in the local savings-bank the sum of 
twenty-five pounds for his sole use and benefit. 
At this the two women-servants lifted up their 
hands and eyes, and supposed that Mr. Giles 
would begin to be quite proud now ; whereunto 
Mr. Giles, pulling out his shirt-frill, replied, 
^^ No, no," — and that if they observed that he 
was at all haughty to his inferiors, he would 
thank them to tell him so. And then he made 
a great many other remarks, no less illustrative 
of his humility, which were received with equal 
favour and applause, and were withal as original 
and as much to the purpose as the remarks of 
great men commonly are. 

Above stairs, the remainder of the evening 
passed cheerfully away, for the doctor was in 



OLIVER TWIST. 255 

high spirits, and however fatigued or thought- 
ful Harry MayUe might have been at first, he 
was not proof against the worthy gentleman's 
good humour, which displayed itself in a great 
variety of sallies and professional recollections, 
and an abundance of small jokes, which struck 
Oliver as being the drollest things he had ever 
heard, and caused him to laugh proportionately, 
to the evident satisfaction of the doctor, who 
laughed immoderately at himself, and made 
Harry laugh almost as heartily by the very force 
of sympathy. So they were as pleasant a party 
as, under the circumstances, they could well have 
been, and it was late before they retired, with 
light and thankful hearts, to take that rest of 
which, after the doubt and suspense they had 
recently undergone, they stood so much in 
need. 

Oliver rose next morning in better heart, and 
went about his usual early occupations with 
more hope and pleasure than he had known for 
many days. The birds were once more hung 
out to sing in their old places, and the sweetest 
wild flowers that could be found were once 



^56 



OLIVER TWIST. 



more gathered to gladden Rose with their 
beauty and fragrance. The melancholy which 
had seemed to the sad eyes of the anxious boy 
to hang for days past over every object^ beauti- 
ful as they all were, was dispelled by magic. 
The dew seemed to sparkle more brightly on 
the green leaves, the air to rustle among them 
with a sweeter music, and the sky itself to look 
more blue and bright. Such is the influence 
which the condition of our own thoughts exer- 
cises even over the appearance of external ob- 
jects. Men who look on nature and their fel- 
low men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, 
are in the right; but the sombre colours are 
reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and 
hearts. The real hues are delicate, and require 
a clearer vision. 

It is worthy of remark, and Oliver did not fail 
to note it at the time, that his morning expedi- 
tions were no longer made alone. Harry May- 
lie, after the very first morning when he met 
Oliver coming laden home, was seized with 
such a passion for flowers, and displayed such 
a taste in their arrangement, as left his young 



OLIVER TWIST. ^o7 

companion far behind. If Oliver were behind- 
hand in these respects^ however, he knew where 
the best were to be found, and morning after 
morning they scoured the country together, 
and brought home the fairest that blossomed. 
The window of the young lady's chamber was 
opened now, for she loved to feel the rich sum- 
mer air stream in and revive her with its fresh- 
ness ; but there always stood in vrater, just 
inside the lattice, one particular little bunch 
which was made up with great care every morn- 
ing. Oliver could not help noticing that the 
withered flowers were never thrown away, 
although the little vase was regularly reple- 
nished; nor could he help observing that when- 
ever the doctor came into the garden he inva- 
riably cast his eyes up to that particular corner, 
and nodded his head most expressively as he 
set forth on his morning^s walk. Pending 
these observations, the days were flying by, 
and Rose was rapidly and surely recovering. 

Nor did Oliver's time hang heavy upon his 
hands, although the young lady had not yet left 
her chamber,and there were no evening walks, 

VOL. II. s 



^8 OLIVER TWIST. 

save now and then for a short distance with 
Mrs. Mayhe. He applied himself with redou- 
bled assiduity to the instructions of the white- 
headed old gentleman^ and laboured so hard 
that his quick progress surprised even himself. 
It was while he was engaged in this pursuit 
that he was greatly startled and distressed by 
a most unexpected occurrence. 

The little room in which he was accustomed 
to sit when busy at his books was on the 
ground-floor, at the back of the house. It was 
quite a cottage-room, with a lattice-window, 
around which were clusters of jessamine and 
honeysuckle, that crept over the Casement, and 
filled the place with their delicious perfume. 
It looked into ^ garden, whence a wicket-gate 
opened into a small paddock ; all beyond was 
fine meadow-land and wood. There was no 
other dwelling near, in that direction, and the 
prospect it commanded was very extensive. 

One beautiful evening, when the first shades 
of twilight were beginning to settle upon the 
earth, Oliver sat at this window intent upon 
nis books. He had been poring over them for 



OLIVER TWIST. ^59 

some time ; and as the day had been uncom- 
monly sultry and he had exerted himself a great 
deal, it is no disparagement to the authors, who- 
ever they may have been, to say that gradually 
and by slow degrees he fell asleep. 

There is a kind of sleep that steals upon us 
sometimes which, while it holds the body pri- 
soner, does not free the mind from a sense of 
things about it, and enable it to ramble as it 
pleases. So far as an overpowering heaviness, 
a prostration of strength, and an utter inability 
to control our thoughts or power of motion can 
be called sleep, this is it; and yet we have a 
consciousness of all that is going on about us, 
and even if we dream, words which are really 
spoken, or sounds which really exist at the mo- 
ment, accommodate themselves with surprising 
readiness to our visions, until reality and ima- 
gination become so strangely blended that it is 
afterwards almost a matter of impossibility to 
separate the two. Nor is this the most striking 
phenomenon incidental to such a state. It is 
an ascertained fact, that although our senses of 
touch and sight be for the time dead, yet our 
s 2 



260 



OLIVER TWIST. 



sleeping thoughts and the visionary scenes that 
pass before us will be influenced^ and materially 
influenced;, by the mere silent presence, oi some 
external object v/hich may not have been near 
us when we closed our eyes^ and of whose 
vicinity we have had no waking conscious- 
ness. 

Ohver knew perfectly well that he was in his 
ovrn little room, that his books were lying on 
the table before him, and that the sweet air was 
stirring among the creeping plants outside, — 
and yet he was asleep. Suddenly the scene 
changed, the air became close and confined, and 
he thought with a glow of terror that he was in 
the Jew's house again. There sat the hideous 
old man in his accustomed corner pointing at 
him, and whispering to another man with his 
face averted who sat beside him. 

^^ Hush, my dear P^ he thought he heard the 
Jew say ; " it is him, sure enough. Come 
away.^^ 

" He !" the other man seemed to answer ; 
*^ could I mistake him, think you ? If a crowd 
of devils were to put themselves into his exact 




(^L-Wy. 



OLIVER TWIST. 26 1 

shape, and he stood amongst them, there is 
something that would tell me how to point him 
out. If you buried him fifty feet deep, and 
took me across his grave, I should know, if 
there wasn't a mark above it, that he lay buried 
there. Wither his flesh, I should !" 

The man seemed to say this with such 
dreadful hatred, that Oliver awoke with the fear 
and started up. 

Good God ! what was that which sent the 
blood tingling to his heart, and deprived him of 
voice or power to move ! There — there — at the 
window — close before him — so close, that he 
could have almost touched him before he 
started back — ^with his eyes peering into the 
room, and meeting his — there stood the Jew ! 
and beside him, white with rage, or fear, or 
both, were the scowling features of the very 
man who had accosted him at the inn-yard. 

It was but an instant, a glance, a flash before 
his eyes, and they were gone. But they had 
recognised him, and he them, and their look 
was as firmly impressed upon his memory as if 



262 OLIVER TWIST. 

it had been deeply carved in stone, and set be- 
fore him from his birth. He stood transfixed 
for a moment, and then, leaping from the win- 
dow into the garden, called loudly for help. 



OLIVER TWIST. 



263 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

CONTAINING THE UNSATISFACTORY RESULT OF OLIVEr's AD- 
VENTURE, AND A CONVERSATION OF SOME IMPORTANCE 
BETWEEN HARRY MAYLIE AND ROSE. 

When the inmates of the house^ attracted 
by Ohver's cries^ hurried to the spot from 
which they proceeded, they found him, pale 
and agitated, pointing in the direction of the 
meadows behind the house, and scarcely able 
to articulate the words " The Jew ! the Jew !" 

Mr. Giles was at a loss to comprehend what 
this outcry meant; but Harry Maylie, whose 
perceptions were something quicker, and who 
had heard Oliver's history from his mother, 
understood it at once. 

"What direction did he take?" he asked^ 
catching up a heavy stick which was standing 
in a corner. 



264^ OLIVER TWIST. 

'^ That/' replied Oliver^ pointing out the 
course the men had taken. '^'^I missed them 
all in an instant. 

"Then they are in the ditch!" said Harry. 
" Follow^ and keep as near me as you can." So 
saying he sprang over the hedge^ and darted off 
with a speed which rendered it matter of ex- 
ceeding difficulty for the others to keep near 
him. 

Giles followed as well as he could, and Oliver 
followed too, and in the course of a minute or 
two, Mr. Losberne, who had been out walking, 
and just then returned, tumbled over the hedge 
after them, and picking himself up with more 
agility than he could have been supposed to 
possess, struck into the same course at no con- 
temptible speed, shouting all the while most 
prodigiously to know what was the matter. 

On they all went ; nor stopped they once to 
breathe until the leader, striking off into an 
angle of the field indicated by Oliver, began to 
search narrowly the ditch and hedge adjoining, 
which afforded time for the remainder of the 
party to come up, and for Oliver to communi- 



OLIVER TWIST. ^65 

cate to Mr. Losberne the circumstances that 
had led to so vigorous a pursuit. 

The search was all in vain. There were not 
even the traces of recent footsteps to be seen. 
They stood now on the summit of a little hill, 
commanding the open fields in every direction 
for three or four miles. There was the village 
in the hollow on the left ; but, in order to gain 
that, after pursuing the track Oliver had pointed 
out, the men must have made a circuit of open 
ground v/hich it vras impossible they could have 
accomplished in so short a time. A thick wood 
skirted the meadow-land in another direction ; 
l)ut they could not have gained that covert for 
the same reason. 

"It must have been a dream, Oliver?" said 
Harry Maylie, taking him aside. 

"Oh no, indeed, sir," replied Oliver, shud- 
dering at the very recollection of the old wretch's 
countenance ; ^^ I saw him too plainly for that. 
I saw them both as plainly as I see you now." 

"Who was the other?" inquired Harry and 
Mr. Losberne togetlier. 

" The very same man that I told you Qiy 



£66 OLIVER TWIST. 

who came so suddenly upon me at the inn/* 
said Ohver. " We had our eyes fixed full upon 
each other^ and I could swear to him. 

"They took this way?" demanded Harry; 
" are you certain of that ?" 

" As I am that the men were at the window,'* 
replied Oliver, pointing down as he spoke to 
the hedge which divided the cottage - garden 
from the meadow. ^^ The tall man leaped over 
just there ; and the Jew, running a few paces 
to the right, crept through that gap.'^ 

The two gentlemen watched Oliver's earnest 
face as he spoke, and looking from him to each 
other, seemed to feel satisfied of the accuracy 
of what he said. Still, in no direction were 
there any appearances of the trampling of men 
in hurried flight. The grass was long, but it 
was trodden down nowhere save where their 
own feet had crushed it. The sides and brinks 
of the ditches were of damp clay, but in no one 
place could they discern the print of men's 
shoes, or the slightest mark which would indi- 
cate that any feet had pressed the ground for 
hours before. 



OLIVER TWIST. S67 

^^This is strange !" said Harry. 

" Strange ?" echoed the doctor. " Blathers 
and Duff themselves could make nothing 
of it." 

Notwithstanding the evidently inefficacious 
nature of their search, however, they did not 
desist until the coming on of night rendered 
its further prosecution hopeless, and even then 
they gave it up with reluctance. Giles was de- 
spatched to the different alehouses in the vil- 
lage, furnished with the best description Oliver 
could give of the appearance and dress of the 
strangers ; of whom the Jew was at all events 
sufficiently remarkable to be remembered sup- 
posing he had been seen drinking, or loitering 
about ; but he returned without any intelligence 
calculated to dispel or lessen the mystery. 

On the next day further search was made, 
and the inquiries renewed, but with no better 
success. On the day following, Oliver and Mr, 
Maylie repaired to the market-town, in the hope 
of seeing or hearing something of the men 
there ; but this effort was equally fruitless ; and, 
after a few days the affair began to be forgotten. 



^6S OLIVER TWIST. 

as most affairs are^ when wonder^ having no 
fresh food to support it, dies away of it- 
self 

Meanwhile Rose was rapidly recovering. She 
had left her room, was able to go out, and, mix- 
ing once more with the family, carried joy into 
the hearts of all. 

But although this happy change had a visible 
effect on the little circle, and although cheerful 
voices and merry laughter v\^ere once more 
heard in the cottage, there was at times an un- 
wonted restraint upon some there — even upon 
Rose herself — which Oliver could not fail to re- 
mark. Mrs. Maylie and her son were often 
closeted together for a long time, and more than 
once Rose appeared w^ith traces of tears upon 
her face. After Mr. Losberne had fixed a day 
for his departure to Chertsey, these symptoms 
increased, and it became evident that some- 
thing was in progress which affected the peace 
of the young lady and of somebody else be- 
sides. 

At length one morning, when Rose was alone 
in the breakfast-parlour, Harry Maylie entered. 



OLIVER TWIST. 269 

and with some hesitation begged permission to 
speak with her for a few moments. 

*^* A few — a very few — will suffice. Rose," 
said the young man, drawing his chair towards 
her. ^^What I shall have to say has already 
presented itself to your mind ; the most che- 
rished hopes of my heart are not unknown to 
you, though from my hps you have not yet heard 
them stated." 

Rose had been very pale from the moment 
of his entrance, although that might have been 
the effect of her recent illness. She merely 
bov/ed, and bending over some plants that 
stood near, waited in silence for him to pro- 
ceed. 

" I — I — ought to have left here before," said 
Harry. 

^^ You should indeed," replied Rose. " For- 
give me for saying so, but 1 wish you had." 

^1 I was brought here by the most dreadful 
and agonizing of all apprehensions," said the 
young man, " the fear of losing the one dear 
being on whom my every wish and hope are 
centred. You had been dying — trembling be- 



270 OLIVER TWIST. 

tween earth and heaven. We know that when 
the youngs the beautiful, and good, are visited 
with sickness, their pure spirits insensibly turn 
towards their bright home of lasting rest, and 
hence it is that the best and fairest of our kind 
so often fade in blooming." 

There were tears in the eye of t hegentle girl 
as these words were spoken, and when one fell 
upon the flower over which she bent, and glis- 
tened brightly in its cup, making it more beau- 
tiful, it seemed as though the outpourings of a 
fresh young heart claimed common kindred 
with the loveliest things in nature. 

'^ An angel," continued the young man pas- 
sionately, ^^ a creature as fair and innocent of 
guile as one of God's own angels, fluttered be- 
tween life and death. Oh ! who could hope, 
when the distant world to which she was akin 
half opened to her view, that she would return 
to the sorrow and calamity of this ! Rose^ 
Rose, to know that you were passing away like 
some soft shadow, which a light from above 
casts upon the earth — to have no hope that you 
would be spared to those who linger here, and 



OLIVER TWIST. ^TJl 

to know no reason why you should — to feel that 
you belonged to that bright sphere whither so 
many gifted creatures in infancy and youth 
have winged their early flight — and yet to pray, 
amid all these consolations, that you might be 
restored to those who loved you — these are 
distractions almost too great to bear. They 
were mine by day and night, and with them 
came such a rushing torrent of fears and appre- 
hensions, and selfish regrets lest you should die 
and never know how devotedly I loved you, as 
almost bore down sense and reason in its 
course. You recovered — day by day, and 
almost hour by hour, some drop of health came 
back, and mingling with the spent and feeble 
stream of life which circulated languidly within 
you, swelled it again to a high and rushing tide. 
I have watched you change almost from death 
to life, v/ith eyes that moistened with their own 
eagerness and deep affection. Do not tell me 
that you wish I had lost this ; for it has softened 
my heart to all mankind." 

^^ I did not mean that," said Rose weeping ; 
" I only wish you had left here, that you might 



27^ OLIVER TWIST. 

have turned to high and noble pursuits again — 
to pursuits well worthy of you." 

" There is no pursuit more worthy of me — 
more worthy of the highest nature that exists — 
than the struggle to win such a heart as yours/' 
said the young man taking her ha^d. '' Rose, 
my own dear Rose, for years — for years I have 
loved you, hoping to win my way to fame, and 
then come proudly home and tell you it had 
been sought, only for you to share ; thinking in 
my day-dreams how I would remind you in that 
happy moment of the many silent tokens I had 
given of a boy's attachment, and rally you who 
had blushed to mark them, and then claim your 
hand, as if in redemption of some old mute con- 
tract that had been sealed between us. That 
time has not arrived ; but here, with no fame 
won and no young vision realized, I give to 
you the heart so long your own, and stake my 
all upon the words with which you greet the 
ofFer.^^ 

'' Your behaviour has ever been kind and 
noble,^' said Rose, mastering the emotions by 
which she was agitated. '^ As you believe that 



OLIVER TWIST. 273 

I am not insensible or ungrateful, so hear my 
answer.'' 

^' It is that I may endeavour to deserve you 
— is it, dear Rose ?" 

^^ It is," replied Rose, ^' that you must en- 
deavour to forget me — not as your old and 
dearly - attached companion, for that would 
wound me deeply, but as the object of your 
love. Look into the world, think how many 
hearts you would be equally proud to gain are 
there. Confide some other passion to me if 
you will, and I will be the truest, warmest, 
most faithful friend you have." 

There was a pause, during which Rose, who 
had covered her face with one hand, gave free 
vent to her tears. Harry still retained the 
other. " And your reasons. Rose,'* he said at 
length in a low voice, " your reasons for this 
decision — may I ask them ?" 

^^ You have a right to know them," rejoined 
Rose. '' You can say nothing to alter my reso- 
lution. It is a duty that I must perform. I 
owe it alike to others, and to myself." 

"To yourself?" 

VOL. II. T 



274 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ Yes, Harry, I owe it to myself that I, a 
friendless, portionless girl, with a blight upon 
my name, should not give the world reason to 
suspect that I had sordidly yielded to your first 
passion, and fastened myself, a clog, upon all 
your hopes and projects. I owe it to you and 
yours to prevent you from opposing, in the 
warmth of your generous nature, this great ob- 
stacle to your progress in the world." 

" If your inclinations chime with your sense 
of duty " Harry began. 

" They do not,'*' replied Rose, colouring 
deeply. 

'^ Then you return my love ?" said Harry. 
^^ Say but that. Rose ; say but that, and soften 
the bitterness of this hard disappointment." 

" If I could have done so without doing 
heavy wrong to him I loved," rejoined Rose, 
" I could have—'' 

'^ Have received this declaration very differ- 
ently ?" said Harry with great eagerness. ^^ Do 
not conceal that from me at least. Rose.'' 

" I could,'' said Rose. " Stay,'' she added, 
disengaging her hand, " why should we prolong 



OLIVER TWIST. ^75 

this painful interview ? most painful to me, and 
yet productive of lasting happiness notwith- 
standing ; for it will be happiness to know that 
I once held the high place in your regard which 
I now occupy, and every triumph you achieve 
in life w*ill animate me with new fortitude and 
firmness. Farewell, Harry ! for as we have 
met to-day, we meet no more : but in other re- 
lations than those in which this conversation 
would have placed us, may we be long and hap- 
pily intwined ; and may every blessing that the 
prayers of a true and earnest heart can call 
down from where all is truth and sincerity, 
cheer and prosper you." 

" Another word, Rose,^^ said Harry. '' Your 
reason in your own words. From your own 
lips let me hear it." 

^^ The prospect before you," answered Rose 
firmly, " is a brilliant one ; all the honours to 
which great talents and powerful connexions 
can help men in public life are in store for you. 
But those connexions are proud, and I will 
neither mingle with such as hold in scorn the 
mother who gave me life, nor bring disgrace or 
T 2 



276 OLIVER TWIST. 

failure upon the son of her who has so well 
supphed that mother's place. ^' In a word," 
said the young lady, turning away as her tem- 
porary firmness forsook her, ^' there is a stain 
upon my name which the world visits on inno- 
cent heads : I will carry it into no blood but 
my own and the reproach shall rest alone on 
me.'* 

'^ One word more. Rose — dear . Rose, one 
more," cried Harry throwing himself before 
her. " If I had been less, less fortunate, as 
the world would call it, — if some obscure and 
peaceful life had been my destiny, — if I had 
been poor, sick, helpless, — would you have 
turned from me then? or has my probable 
advancement to riches and honour given this 
scruple birth?" 

" Do not press me to reply," answered Rose. 
" The question does not arise, and never will. 
It is unfair, unkind, to urge it." 

" If your answer be what I almost dare to 
hope it is," retorted Harry, ^^ it will shed a 
gleam of happiness upon my lonely way, and 
light the dreary path before me. It is not an 



i 



OLIVER TWIST. ^77 

idle thing to do so much, by the utterance of a 
few brief words, for one who loves us beyond 
all else. Oh, Rose, in the name of my ardent 
and enduring attachment, — in the name of all I 
have suffered for you, and all you doom me to 
undergo, — answer me that one question." 

'^ Then if your lot had been differently cast,'* 
rejoined Rose ; ^^ if you had been even a little, 
but not so far above me ; if I could have been a 
help and comfort to you in some humble scene 
of peace and retirement, and not a blot and 
drawback in ambitious and distinguished crowds ; 
I should have been spared this trial. I have 
every reason to be happy, very happy, now ; 
but then, Harry, I own I should have been 
happier.'' 

Busy recollections of old hopes, cherished as 
a girl long ago, crowded into the mind of Rose 
while making this avowal; but they brought 
tears with them, as old hopes will when they 
come back withered, and they relieved her. 

" I cannot help this weakness, and it makes 
my purpose stronger," said Rose extending her 
hand. " I must leave you now, indeed." 



^78 OLIVER TWIST. 

^^ I ask one promise^" said Harry. ^^ Once, 
and only once more, — say within a year, but it 
may be much sooner, — let me speak to you 
again on this subject for the last time." 

^^ Not to press me to alter my right determi- 
nation," replied Rose with a melancholy smile : 
" it will be useless." 

" No," said Harry; ^^ to hear you repeat it, 
if you will ; finally repeat it. I will lay at your 
feet whatever of station or fortune 1 may pos- 
sess, and if you still adhere to your present 
resolution, will not seek by word or act to 
change it.'* 

" Then let it be so," rejoined Rose. " It is 
but one pang the more, and by that time I may 
be enabled to bear it better.""* 

She extended her hand again, but the young 
man caught her to his bosom, and, imprinting 
one kiss upon her beautiful forehead, hurried 
from the room. 



OLIVER TWIST. ^79 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

JS A VERY SHORT ONE, AND MAY APPEAR OF NO GREAT 
IMPORTANCE IN ITS PLACE, BUT IT SHOULD BE PiEAD 
NOTWITHSTANDING, AS A SEQUEL TO THE LAST, AND 
A KEY TO ONE THAT WILL FOLLOW WHEN ITS TIME 
ARRIVES. 

"And so you are resolved to be my travel- 
ling-companion this morning — eh ?^' said the 
doctor^ as Harry May lie joined him and Oliver 
at the breakfast-table. Why, you are not in 
the same mind or intention two half- hours 
together. 

'^You will tell me a different tale one of 
these days/' said Harry, colouring without any 
perceptible reason. 

" I hope I may have good cause to do so,'* 
replied Mr. Losberne ; " though I confess I 
don't think I shall. But yesterday morning 



280 OLIVER TWIST. 

you had made up your mind in a great hurry 
to stay here, and accompany your mother, Hke 
a dutiful son, to the sea-side ; before noon you 
announce that you are going to do me the 
honour of accompanying me as far as I go on 
your road to London ; and at night you urge 
me with great mystery to start before the ladies 
are stirring, the consequence of which is, that 
young Oliver here is pinned down to his break- 
fast when he ought to be ranging the meadows 
after botanical phenomena of all kinds. Too 
bad, isn't it, Oliver?" 

'^ I should have been very sorry not to have 
been at home when you and Mr. Maylie went 
away, sir," rejoined Oliver. 

" That's a fine fellow," said the doctor ; ^^ you 
shall come and see me when you return. But, 
to speak seriously, Harry, has any communica- 
tion from the great nobs produced this sudden 
anxiety on your part to be gone ?" 

^^The great nobs,^' replied Harry, ^^ under 
which designation, I presume, you include my 
most stately uncle, have not communicated 
with me at all since I have been here, nor, at 



OLIVER TWIST. 281 

this time of the year, is it likely that any thing 
would occur to render necessary my immediate 
attendance among them/' 

^^ Well," said the doctor, " you are a queer 
fellow. But of course they will get you into 
parliament at the election before Christmas, 
and these sudden shiftings and changes are 
no bad preparation for political life. There'^s 
something in that ; good training is always de- 
sirable, whether the race be for place, cup, or 
sweepstakes." 

Harry Maylie looked as if he could have 
followed up this short dialogue by one or two 
remarks that would have staggered the doctor 
not a little, but he contented himself with say- 
ing, " We shall see," and pursued the subject 
no further. The post-chaise drove up to the 
door shortly afterwards, and Giles coming in 
for the luggage, the good doctor bustled out to 
see it packed away. 

^^ Oliver," said Harry Maylie in a low voice, 
^^ let me speak a word with you." 

Oliver walked into the window - recess to 



28^ OLIVER TWIST. 

which Mr. Mayhe beckoned him ; much sur- 
prised at the mixture of sadness and bois- 
terous spirits^ which his whole behaviour dis- 
played. 

" You can write well now," said Harry, lay- 
ing his hand upon his arm. 

^^ I hope so, sir/' replied Oliver. 

'' I shall not be at home again^ perhaps for 
some time ; I wish you would write to me — 
say once a fortnight, every alternate Monday, 
to the General Post Office in London : will 
you I" said Mr. Mayhe. 

'^ Oh ! certainly sir ; I shall be proud to do 
it," exclaimed Oliver, greatly delighted with 
the commission. 

" I should like to know how — how my mo- 
ther and Miss Maylie are," said the young 
man ; and you can fill up a sheet by telling me 
what walks you take, and what you talk about, 
and whether she — they, I mean, seem happy 
and quite well. You understand me ?" 

" Oh ! quite, sir, quite," replied Oliver. 

" I would rather you did not mention it to 



OLIVER TWIST. 283 

them^" said Harry, hurrying over his words, 
" Because it might make my mother anxious to 
write to me oftener, and it is a trouble and worry 
to her. Let it be a secret between you and me, 
and mind you tell me every thing ; I depend 
upon you." 

Oliver, quite elated and honoured by a 
sense of his importance, faithfully promised 
to be secret and explicit in his communica- 
tions, and Mr. Mayiie took leave of him with 
many warm assurances of his regard and pro- 
tection. 

The doctor was in the chaise ; Giles (who, it 
had been arranged, should be left behind) held 
the door open in his hand; and the women- 
servants were in the garden looking on. Harry 
cast one slight glance at the latticed window, 
and jumped into the carriage. 

'^ Drive on P^ he cried, " hard, fast, full 
gallop. Nothing short of flying will keep pace 
Vvith me to-day." 

^^ Halloa!" cried the doctor, letting down 
the front glass in a great hurry, and shout- 
ing to the postilion, " something very short 



284 OLIVER TWIST, 

of flying will keep pace with me. Do you 
hear ?" 

Jingling and clattering till distance rendered 
its noise inaudible^ and its rapid progress 
only perceptible to the eye, the vehicle wound 
its way along the road almost hidden in a 
cloud of dust, now wholly disappearing, and 
now becoming visible again, as intervening 
objects or the intricacies of the way per- 
mitted. It was not until even the dusty cloud 
was no longer to be seen, that the gazers 
dispersed. 

And there was one looker-on, who remained 
with eyes fixed upon the spot where the car- 
riage had disappeared, long after it was many 
miles away ; for behind the white curtain which 
had shrouded her from view, when Harry 
raised his eyes towards the window, sat Rose 
herself. 

" He seems in high spirits and happy,^* 
she said at length. " I feared for a time he 
might be otherwise. I was mistaken. I am 
very, very glad.^^ 

Tears are signs of gladness as well as grief. 



OLIVER TWIST. ^85 

but those which coursed down Rosens face 
as she sat pensively at the window, still gazing 
in the same direction^ seemed to tell more of 
sorrow than of joy. 



286 OLIVER TWIST. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

IN WHICH THE READER, IF HE Oil SHE RESORT TO THE 
EIFTH CHAPTER OF THIS SECOND BOOK WILL PERCEIVE 
A CONTRAST NOT UNCOMMON IN MATRIMONIAL CASES. 

Mr. Bumble sat in the workhouse parlour, 
with his eyes moodily fixed on the cheerless 
grate, whence, as it was summer time, no 
brighter gleam proceeded than the reflection of 
certain sickly rays of the sun, which were sent 
back from its cold and shining surface. A paper 
fly-cage dangled from the ceiling, to which he 
occasionally raised his eyes in gloomy thought ; 
and, as the heedless insects hovered round the 
gaudy network, Mr. Bumble would heave a 
deep sigh, while a more gloomy shadow over- 
spread his countenance. Mr. Bumble was 
meditating, and it might be that the insects 



OLIVER TWIST. 287 

brought to mind some painful passage in his 
own past life. 

Nor was Mr. Bumble's gloom the only thing 
calculated to awaken a pleasing melancholy in 
the bosom of a spectator. There were not 
wanting other appearances^ and those closely 
connected with his own person, which an- 
nounced that a great change had taken place in 
the position of his affairs. The laced coat and 
the cocked hat, where were they? He still 
wore knee-breeches and dark cotton stockings 
on his nether limbs, but they were not tlie 
breeches. The coat was wide-skirted, and in 
that respect like the coat, but, oh, how diiFerent ! 
The mighty cocked-hat was replaced by a mo- 
dest round one. Mr. Bumble was no longer a 
beadle. 

There are some promotions in life which, 
independent of the more substantial rewards 
they offer, acquire peculiar value and dignity 
from the coats and waistcoats connected with 
them. A field-marshal has his uniform, a 
bishop his silk apron, a counsellor his silk 
gown, a beadle his cocked hat. Strip the 



S88 OLIVER TWIST, 

bishop of his apron, or the beadle of his cocked 
hat and gold lace, what are they ? Men, — mere 
men. Dignity, and even holiness too, some- 
times, are more questions of coat and waistcoat 
than some people imagine. 

Mr. Bumble had married Mrs. Corney, and 
was master of the workhouse. Another beadle 
had come into power, and on him the cocked- 
hat, gold-laced coat, and staff, had all three 
descended. 

^^ And to-morrow two months it was done !'^ 
said Mr. Bumble with a sigh. ^^ It seems a age.^^ 

Mr. Bumble might have meant that he had 
concentrated a whole existence of happiness 
into the short space of eight weeks; but the 
sigh — there was a vast deal of meaning in the 
sigh. 

'^ I sold myself,^' said Mr. Bumble, pursuing 
the same train of reflection, ^^ for six teaspoons, 
a pair of sugar-tongs, and a milk-pot, with a 
small quantity of second-hand furniter, and 
twenty pound in money. I went very reason- 
able — cheap, dirt cheap.^^ 

" Cheap !" cried a shrill voice in Mr. Bumble's 



OLIVER TWIST. 589 

ear : " You would have been dear at any price ; 
and dear enough I paid for you^ Lord above 
knows that.'^ 

Mr. Bumble turned and encountered the face 
of his interesting consort, who, imperfectly com- 
prehending the few w^ords she had overheard 
of his complaint, had hazarded the foregoing 
remark at a venture. 

" Mrs. Bumble, ma^am !^' said Mr. Bumble, 
with sentimental sternness. 

« Well/' cried the lady. 

" Have the goodness to look at me," said 
Mr. Bumble, fixing his eyes upon her. 

" If she stands such a eye as that,'' said Mr. 
Bumble to himself, " she can stand anything. 
It is a eye I never knew to fail with paupers, 
and if it fails with her my power is gone." 

Whether an exceedingly small expansion of 
eye is sufficient to quell paupers, who, being 
lightly fed, are in no very high condition, or 
whether the late Mrs. Corney was particularly 
proof against eagle glances, are matters of 
opinion. The matter of fact is, that the matron 
was in no way overpowered by Mr. Bumble's 

VOL. II. u 



^90 OLIVER TWIST. 

scowl, but, on the contrary, treated it with 
great disdain, and even raised a laugh thereat, 
which sounded as though it were genuine. 

On hearing this most unexpected sound, 
Mr. Bumble looked first incredulous, and after- 
wards amazed. He then relapsed into his 
former state ; nor did he rouse himself until his 
attention was again awakened by the voice of 
his partner. 

^^Are you going to sit snoring there all 
day?^^ inquired Mrs. Bumble. 

" I am going to sit here as long as I think 
proper, ma'am," rejoined Mr. Bumble ; ^^ and 
although I was not snoring, I shall snore, gape, 
sneeze, laugh, or cry, as the humour strikes 
me, such being my prerogative." 

" Your prerogative V' sneered Mrs. Bumble 
with ineffable contempt. 

" I said the word, ma'am," observed Mr. 
Bumble. "The prerogative of a man is to 
command." 

^^And what's the prerogative of a woman, 
in the name of goodness ?" cried the relict of 
Mr. Corney deceased. 



OLIVER TWIST. ^91 

" To obey;, ma'am/' thundered Mr. Bumble. 
^^Your late unfort'nate husband should have 
taught it you, and then, perhaps, he might 
have been alive now. I wish he was, poor 
man !" 

Mrs. Bumble, seeing at a glance that the deci- 
sive moment had now arrived, and that a blow 
struck for the mastership on one side or other 
must necessarily be final and conclusive, no 
sooner heard this allusion to the dead and gone, 
than she dropped into a chair, and, with a loud 
scream that Mr. Bumble was a hard-hearted 
brute, fell into a paroxysm of tears. 

But tears were not the things to find their 
way to Mr. Bumble's soul ; his heart was water- 
proof. Like washable beaver hats, that improve 
with rain, his nerves were rendered stouter and 
more vigorous by showers of tears, which, being 
tokens of weakness, and so far tacit admissions 
of his own power, pleased and exalted him. He 
eyed his good lady with looks of great satis- 
faction, and begged in an encouraging manner 
that she should cry her hardest, the exercise 
u 2 



292 OLIVER TWIST. 

being looked upon by the faculty as strongly 
conducive to health. 

^^ It opens the lungs^ washes the countenance, 
exercises the eyes^ and softens down the tem- 
per/^ said Mr. Bumble ; " so cry away/^ 

As he discharged himself of this pleasantry, 
Mr. Bumble took his hat from a peg, and put- 
ting it on rather rakishly on one side, as a man 
might do who felt he had asserted his superi- 
ority in a becoming manner, thrust his hands 
into his pockets, and sauntered towards the door 
with much ease and waggishness depicted in his 
whole appearance. 

Now Mrs. Corney, that was, had tried the 
tears, because they were less troublesome than 
a manual assault ; but she was quite prepared to 
make trial of the latter mode of proceeding, as 
Mr, Bumble was not long in discovering. 

The first proof he experienced of the fact was 
conveyed in a hollow sound, immediately suc- 
ceeded by the sudden flying off of his hat to the 
opposite end of the room. This preliminary 
proceeding laying bare his head, the expert lady. 



OLIVER TWIST. 293 

clasping him tight round the throat with one 
hand, inflicted a shower of blows (dealt with 
singular vigour and dexterity) upon it with the 
other. This done, she created a little variety 
by scratching his face and tearing his hair off, 
and having by this time inflicted as much 
punishment as she deemed necessary for the 
oiFence, she pushed him over a chair, which was 
luckily well situated for the purpose, and defied 
him to talk about his prerogative again if he 
dared. 

" Get up/' said Mrs. Bumble in a voice of 
command, ^^ and take yourself away from here, 
unless you want me to do something desperate.^' 

Mr. Bumble rose with a very rueful counte- 
nance, wondering much what something des- 
perate might be, and, picking up his hat, looked 
towards the door. 

'' Are you going V' demanded Mrs. Bumble. 

'^ Certainly, my dear, certainly," rejoined 
Mr. Bumble, making a quicker motion towards 
the door. ^^ I didn't intend to — Pm going, my 
dear — you are so very violent, that really I — '^ 

At this instant Mrs. Bumble stepped hastily 



£94* OLIVER TWIST. 

forward to replace the carpet, which had been 
kicked up in the scuffle, and Mr. Bumble im- 
mediately darted out of the room without be- 
stowing another thought on his unfinished sen- 
tence, leaving the late Mrs. Corney in full pos- 
session of the field. 

Mr. Bumble was fairly taken by surprise, 
and fairly beaten. He had a decided bullying 
propensity, derived no inconsiderable pleasure 
from the exercise of petty cruelty, and conse- 
quently was (it is needless to say) a coward. 
This is by no means a disparagement to his 
character ; for many official personages, who are 
held in high respect and admiration, are the 
victims of similar infirmities. The remark is 
made, indeed, rather in his favour than other- 
wise, and with the view of impressing the reader 
with a just sense of his qualifications for office. 

But the measure of his degradation was not 
yet full. After making a tour of the house, and 
thinking for the first time that the poor-laws 
really were too hard upon people, and that men 
who ran away from their wives, leaving them 
chargeable to the parish, ought in justice to be 



OLIVER TWIST. ^95 

visited with no punishment at all^ but rather 
rewarded as meritorious individuals who had 
suffered much^ Mr. Bumble came to a room 
where some of the female paupers were usually 
employed in washing the parish linen, and 
whence the sound of voices in conversation now 
proceeded. 

'^ Hem !" said Mr. Bumble, summoning up 
all his native dignity. " These women at least 
shall continue to respect the prorogative. Hallo ! 
hallo there ! — what do you mean by this noise, 
you hussies?'^ 

With these words Mr. Bumble opened the 
door, and walked in with a very fierce and angry 
manner, which was at once exchanged for a most 
humiliated and cowering air as his eyes unex- 
pectedly rested on the form of his lady wife. 

"My dear,'' said Mr. Bumble, "I didn't 
know you were here.^' 

" Didn't know I was here !" repeated Mrs. 
Bumble. " What do you do here ?" 

^^ I thought they were talking rather too 
much to be doing their work properly, my dear," 
replied Mr. Bumble, glancing distractedly at a 



^96 OLIVER T\VI8T. 

couple of old women at the washtub, wlio were 
comparing notes of admiration at tlie work- 
house-master's humility. 

" You thought they were talking too much P'^ 
said Mrs. Bumble. " What business is it of 
yours?" 

^^ Why, my dear — " urged Mr. Bumble sub- 
missively. 

^^ What business is it of yours ?" demanded 
Mrs. Bumble again. 

" It's very true you're matron here^, my 
dear,'^ submitted Mr. Bumble ; " but I thought 
you mightn't be in the Avay just then." 

" I '11 tell you what, Mr. Bumble/' returned 
his lady, ^^ we don't want any of your inter- 
ference, and you're a great deal too fond of 
poking your nose into things that don't concern 
you, making every body in the house laugh the 
moment your back is turned, and making your- 
self look like a fool every hour in the day. Be 
off; come I" 

Mr. Bumble, seeing with excruciating feel- 
ings the dehght of the two old paupers who 
were tittering together most rapturously, hesi- 



t^^ 




'-^-" 0»^C6^li^, 



-^ ^:-/y 



I7 iticJ^arl Bau'de 7-. 1S33. 



OLIVER TWIST. 29? 

tated for an instant. Mrs. Bumble, whose 
patience brooked no delay, caught up a bowl of 
soap-suds, and motioning him towards the door, 
ordered him instantly to depart, on pain of re- 
ceiving the contents upon his portly person. 

What could Mr. Bumble do? He looked 
dejectedly round, and slunk away; and, as he 
reached the door, the titterings of the paupers 
broke into a shrill chuckle of irrepressible de- 
light. It wanted but this. He was degraded 
in their eyes ; he had lost caste and station be- 
fore the very paupers ; he had fallen from all 
the height and pomp of beadleship to the lowest 
depth of the most snubbed hen-peckery. 

"All in two months!" said Mr. Bumble, 
filled with dismal thoughts. ^* Two months — 
not more than tv/o months ago I was not only 
my own master, but every body else's, so far as 
the porochial workhouse was concerned, and 
now ! — '' 

It was too much. Mr. Bumble boxed the 
ears of the boy who opened the gate for him 
(for he had reached the portal in his reverie), 
and walked distractedlv into the street. 



^98 OLIVER TWIST. 

He walked up one street and down another 
until exercise had abated the first passion of his 
grief, and then the revulsion of feeling made 
him thirsty. He passed a great many public- 
houses, and at length paused before one in a 
by-way, whose parlour, as he gathered from a 
hasty peep over the blinds, was deserted save 
by one solitary customer. It began to rain 
heavily at the moment, and this determined 
him; Mr. Bumble stepped in, and ordering 
something to drink as he passed the bar, entered 
the apartment into which he had looked from 
the street. 

The man who was seated there was tall and 
dark, and wore a large cloak. He had the air 
of a stranger, and seemed, by a certain haggard- 
ness in his look, as well as by the dusty soils 
on his dress, to have travelled some distance. 
He eyed Bumble askance as he entered, but 
scarcely deigned to nod his head in acknov/- 
ledgment of his salutation, 

Mr. Bumble had quite dignity enough for 
two, supposing even that the stranger had been 
more familiar, so he drank his gin-and-water in 



OLIVER TWIST. 299 

silence^ and read the paper with great show of 
pomp and importance. 

It so happened, however — as it will happen 
very often when men fall into company under 
such circumstances — that Mr. Bumble felt every 
now and then a powerful inducement, which he 
could not resist, to steal a look at the stranger, 
and that whenever he did so he withdrew his 
eyes in some confusion, to find that the stranger 
was at that moment stealing a look at him. 
Mr. Bumble^s awkwardness was enhanced by 
the very remarkable expression of the stranger's 
eye, which was keen and bright, but shadowed 
by a scowl of distrust and suspicion unlike any 
thing he had ever observed before, and most 
repulsive to behold. 

When they had encountered each other's 
glance several times in this way, the stranger, 
in a harsh, deep voice, broke silence. 

*^ Were you looking for me," he said, " when 
you peered in at the window ?" 

"Not that I am aware of, unless you're 

Mr. " Here Mr. Bumble stopped short, 

for he was curious to know the stran ger's name. 



300 OLIVER TWIST. 

and thought in his impatience he might supply 
the blank. 

^^ I see you were not/^ said the stranger^ an 
expression of quiet sarcasm playing about his 
mouth, " or you would have known my name. 
You don^t know it, and I should recommend 
you not to inquire/^ 

" I meant no harm, young man,^^ observed 
Mr. Bumble, majestically. 

" And have done none/^ said the stranger. 

Another silence succeeded this short dialogue, 
which was again broken by the stranger. 

" I have seen you before, I think," said he. 
" You were differently dressed at that time, 
and I only passed you in the street, but I should 
know you again. You were beadle here once, 
Avere you not V 

" I was," said Mr. Bumble, in some surprise. 
" Porochial beadle." 

"Just so," rejoined the other, nodding his 
head. " It was in that character I saw you. 
" What are you now ?" 

"Master of the worldiouse," rejoined Mr. 
Bumble, slowly and impressively, to check any 



OLIVER TWIST. 301 

undue familiarity the stranger might otherwise 
assume. "Master of the workhouse, young 
man !'' 

" You have the same eye to your own interest 
that you always have had, I doubt not V re- 
sumed the stranger, looking keenly into Mr. 
Bamble"'s eyes as he raised them in astonish- 
ment at the question. " Don't scruple to an- 
swer freely, man. I know you pretty well, you 
see." 

'' I suppose a married man,^^ replied Mr. 
Bumble, shading his eyes with his hand, and 
surveying the stranger from head to foot in 
evident perplexity, " is not more averse to turn- 
ing an honest penny when he can than a single 
one. Porochial officers are not so ^Yell paid 
that they can afford to refuse any little extra fee, 
when it comes to them in a civil and proper 
manner." 

The stranger smiled, and nodded his head 
again, as much as to say he found he had not 
mistaken his man : then rang the bell. 

" Fill this glass again," he said, handing Mr. 
Bumble's empty tumbler to the landlord. 



30^ OLIVER TWIST. 

" Let it be strong and hot. You like it so, I 
suppose ?'^ 

" Not too strong," replied Mr. Bumble, with 
a delicate cough. 

"You understand what that means, land- 
lord !" said the stranger, drily. 

The host smiled, disappeared, and shortly 
afterwards returned with a steaming jorum, of 
which the first gulp brought the water into 
Mr. Bumble's eyes. 

^^ Now listen to me," said the stranger, after 
closing the door and window. " I came down 
to this place to-day to find you out, and, by 
one of those chances which the devil throws in 
the way of his friends sometimes, you walked 
into the very room I was sitting in while you 
were uppermost in my mind. I want some in- 
formation from you, and don''t ask you to give 
it for nothing, slight as it is. Put up that to 
begin with/' 

As he spoke he pushed a couple of sovereigns 
across the table to his companion carefully, as 
though unwilling that the chinking of money 



OLIVER TWISTo 303 

should be heard without ; and when Mr. Bum- 
ble had scrupulously examined the coins to see 
that they were genuine, and put them up with 
much satisfaction in his waistcoat-pocket, he 
went on. 

" Carry your memory back — let me see — 
twelve years last winter.'^ 

^^ It's along time/^ said Mr. Bumble. ^^ Very 
good. I Ve done it." 

" The scene the workhouse." 

'' Good !" 

'^ And the time night." 

« Yes." 

'^ And the place the crazy hole, wherever it 
was, in which miserable drabs brought forth 
the life and health so often denied to themselves 
— gave birth to puling children for the parish 
to rear, and hid their shame, rot 'em^ in the 
grave." 

"The lying-in room, I suppose that means ?" 
said Mr. Bumble, not quite following the stran- 
ger's excited description. 

" Yes," said the stranger. " A boy was born 
there." 



304t OLIVER TWIST. 

^'^ A many boys," observed Mr. Bumble, 
shaking his head despondingly, 

" A murrain on the young devils !" cried the 
stranger impatiently ; " I speak of one, a meek- 
looking pale-faced hound, who was apprenticed 
down here, to a coffin-maker (I wish he had 
made his coffin, and screwed his body in it), and 
who afterwards ran away to London, as it was 
supposed." 

"Why you mean Oliver — young Twist?'* 
said Mr. Bumble ; " I remember him of course. 
There wasn't a obstinater young rascal " 

" It's not of him I want to hear; I've heard 
enough of him," said the stranger, stopping Mr. 
Bum])le in the very outset of a tirade on the 
subject of poor Oliver's vices. " It's of a wo- 
man, the hag that nursed his mother. Where 
is she?" 

"Where is she?" said Mr. Bumble, whom 
the gin-and-water had rendered facetious. " It 
would be hard to tell. There's no midwifery 
there, whichever place she's gone to; so I 
suppose she's out of employment any way.'^ 



OLIVER TWIST. 305 

** What do you mean?" demanded the stran- 
ger sternly. 

" That she died last winter/' rejoined Mr. 
Bumble. 

The man looked fixedly at him when he had 
given this information, and although he did not 
withdraw his eyes, for some time afterwards, his 
gaze gradually became vacant and abstracted, 
and he seemed lost in thought. For some time 
he appeared doubtful whether he ought to be 
relieved or disappointed by the intelligence, but 
at length he breathed more freely, and with- 
drawing his eyes, observed that it was no great 
matter, and rose as if to depart. 

Mr. Bumble was cunning enough, and he at 
once saw that an opportunity was opened for 
the lucrative disposal of some secret in the pos- 
session of his better half. He well remem- 
bered the night of old Sally''s death, which the 
occurrences of that day had given him good 
reason to recollect as the occasion on which he 
had proposed to Mrs. Corney, and although 
that lady had never confided to him the dis- 
closure of which she had been the solitary wit- 

VOL. II. X 



306 OLIVER TWIST. 

ness^ he had heard enough to know that it 
related to something that had occurred in the 
old woman's attendance as workhouse nurse^ 
upon the young mother of Oliver Twist. Hastily 
calling this circumstance to mind, he informed 
the stranger with an air of mystery, that one 
woman had been closeted with the old harridan 
shortly before she died, and that she could, as 
he had reason to believe, throw some hght on 
the subject of his inquiry. 

^^How can I find her?" said the stranger, 
thrown off his guard, and plainly showing that 
all his fears (whatever they were) were aroused 
afresh by the intelligence. 

" Only through me," rejoined Mr. Bumble. 

" When V' cried the stranger hastily. 

" To-morrow," rejoined Bumble. 

" At nine in the evening,^^ said the stranger, 
producing a scrap of paper, and writing down an 
obscure address, by the water- side, upon it, in 
characters that betrayed his agitation, ^^ at nine 
in the evening, bring her to me there. I 
needn't tell you to be secret, for it's your in- 
terest.'' 



OLIVER TWIST. 307 

With these words he led the way to the 
door^ after stopping to pay for the liquor that 
had been drunk ; and shortly remarking 'that 
their roads were diiFerent, departed without 
more ceremony than an emphatic repetition of 
the hour of appointment for the following night. 

On glancing at the address, the parochial 
functionary observed that it contained no name. 
The stranger had not gone far, so he made after 
him to ask it. 

^^ Who^s that?" cried the man turning 
quickly round as Bumble touched him on the 
arm. " Following me V' 

" Only to ask a question/' said the other^ 
pointing to the scrap of paper. " What name 
am I to ask for ?" 

" Monks !" rejoined the man, and strode 
hastily away. 



END OF VOL. II. 



WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND, 



'h